Hockey India (HI) has refuted Pakistan hockey coach Hasan Sardar’s claim that India backed out of the Asian Champions Trophy final, which was washed out due to rain.

India and Pakistan shared the trophy after the final, held in Muscat, was abandoned following a thunderstorm.

But Sardar claimed that India backed out of the summit clash on a soggy pitch even though his side wanted to play.

A Hockey India official rejected the claim, calling it a “blatant lie” and said Pakistan were the ones in a hurry to leave owing to an early morning return flight.

“Our boys were pumped up for the final match. Even after the heavy rains we told the organisers we will play if they wanted the final to go ahead. But the Indians refused because of the conditions,” Sardar said on Wednesday in Karachi.

Hockey India rubbished the assertion.

“It’s a blatant lie. It was Pakistan who didn’t want to play as they had a return flight at 3 am in the morning. Our flight was next day so we had no problem in waiting,” said the HI official on condition of anonymity.

“By the time rain stopped, it was already 10.30 pm local time and if match was to start, it would have taken at least two more hours to prepare the pitch. The pitch was completely flooded, even the Tournament Director, broadcasters and commentators rooms were flooded,” he added.

On another note, the Pakistan coach also requested the government to release much-needed funds for the hockey team.

“People need to understand the mental state of our players and officials at the moment. The players responded magnificently despite not getting their full daily allowances.”

“There were problems with the hotel booking as well adding to the strain on us. But I say hats off to the PHF President, Brigadier (retd) Khalid Khokar who managed to arrange funds to pay off the hotel dues and give some peace of mind to the team,” he said.

(With PTI inputs)