LAHORE – Full back M Imran will lead Pakistan hockey team in the Champions Trophy while Waqas has been named vice captain.

Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) head coach and manager on Wednesday announced 18-member team for International Super Series 9-a-side to be held in Perth, Australia from November 22 to 25 and 34th Champions Trophy being held in Melbourne from December 1 to 9.

The team management is hoping to improve Pakistan’s ranking by putting up a good show in the eight-nation Champions Trophy. The team has two new faces who are Kashif Ahmed and M Atiq.

Addressing a press conference here at Johar Hockey Stadium, chief coach said: “It is the most suitable combination selected among the 27 probables in which two uncapped players made their way in the squad,

He said Kashif would strengthen the forward line and Atiq would reinforce the defence as a full back. “We have selected the team purely on merit and seek Allah’s help for improving its performance during two hockey assignments in Australia.”

 “We will be going all out to produce a better show to improve from our number seventh ranking to number four or five and if we do so, it will be a big accomplishment,” he added.

Akhtar said the team management was under heavy load as it was also performing the duties of the selection committee. “The task is tough amid presence of world’s best eight teams but achievable as Pakistan team is full of talent and potential. We will play Australia in two tournaments after Olympics and aiming to blend the team into a combination capable of producing good results,” he stated.

Team coach Hanif Khan said the management could not bring wholesale changes in the team due to shortage of time after its participation in Olympics in August last. “The team management is striving for bringing overall improvement and have brought in two new players and after the tour of Australia, we will be working on our plans to make changes in the side focusing on our future needs,” he said.

He blamed lack of clubs activities for the overall downfall of hockey in Pakistan and said clubs had almost vanished from the scene and those which exist were making lesser efforts to strengthen the base of the game at grassroots.

The squad is: M Imran (capt), M Waqas (vc), Imran Shah, Imran Butt, Wasim Ahmed, M Rashid, Farid Ahmed, M Umer Bhutta, Shafqar Rasool, Shakeel Abbasi, Kashif Shah, M Atiq, Rizwan Jr, Touseeq Ahmed, Haseem Khan, Rizwan Sr, Ali Shan and Kashif Ahmed.