Controversy-hit Pakistan feels like 'a car with one tyre missing' at the hockey World Cup

Pakistan's vice-captain Ammad Butt (centre) in action against Malaysia at the 2018 World Cup in Bhubaneswar. Charles McQuillan/Getty Images for FIH

Controversy has a habit of shadowing the Pakistan hockey team in Bhubaneswar. On Thursday night, the side was hit with a one-game suspension of vice-captain Ammad Butt following a collision with a Malaysian forward during the two sides' match on Wednesday. Butt was defending a penalty corner in the 40th minute of the match when he ran into flicker Faizal Saari, clipping him on the side of the head with a raised boot. While the infringement was not punished in the game, it was raised by the Malaysian hockey team after the match, following which Butt was handed the ban by the FIH, which termed his actions a breach of the code of conduct (reckless and careless physical contact between players in the course of play).

Butt isn't the only member of the Pakistan contingent to be penalized following the game. Team manager Hassan Sardar said on Friday that a complaint had also been lodged against Danish Kaleem, an assistant coach with the team. "I received a mail which said that a complaint had been made by Hockey India against Danish Kaleem," says Sardar.

According to sitting manager Tauqeer Dar, Kaleem had been stopped by security for not wearing an accreditation card. "Me and Danish sit up on the terrace and watch the match," says Dar of the incident. "At half-time I sent him with some notes to Hassan Sardar and [coach] Rehan Butt who were sitting on the team bench. And when Danish was coming back, he was stopped by the security and they asked for his accreditation card. But the security people misbehaved with him. "We are facing an inquiry every day."

The suspension of Butt and the looming one of their assistant coach come even as Pakistan lost skipper Mohammad Rizwan Senior after he suffered a fracture in his left foot against Malaysia. Another player, Abu Mahmood, also had to get stitches on his head after being struck with a hockey stick during the match against Malaysia.

Down to 16 players, Pakistan said they are trying to rush a replacement player to India. Even that is uncertain at this point. "Getting an Indian visa is not easy for a Pakistani," says Dar. "We are speaking to the Indian high commissioner and we are hoping for the best. The last day has been very hard for us. We are dealing with a major handicap, It is like we are a car with one tyre missing and now we have to play Holland, which is one of the strongest teams in the tournament. And now most of our energies are being wasted on things other than sports."