FHockey: Pakistan announces squad for Azlan Shah

Pakistan Saturday rested five of their key players in a bid to try out some youngsters for next month's Azlan Shah hockey tournament in Malaysia.

The six-nation tournament will be played in Ipoh, Malaysia, from March 9-16.

The 18-man Pakistan squad will be led by Mohammad Imran, but senior players Shakil Abassi, Mohammad Waseem, Kashif Shah, Mohammad Kashif and Rizwan Senior will be rested.

Coach Akhtar Rasool said the team is a blend of youth and experience.

"We have rested some players in an attempt to try out some youngsters for the future assignments," said Rasool, who took over as coach for the London Olympics last year.

Pakistan finished a poor seventh in the 2012 Olympics but since then have shown improvement by finishing third in the annual Champions Trophy in Australia and by winning the Asian Champions Trophy in Doha, Qatar -- both last year.

New Zealand will defend the Azlan Shah title after winning last year's event. Australia, India, host Malaysia and South Korea are the other teams taking part.

Pakistan will face New Zealand in their opening game on March 9.

Pakistan has a rich history in field hockey, having won three Olympic and four world titles, but the country has slumped since winning its last major title in 1994.

Squad: Mohammad Imran (captain), Imran Shah, Imran Shah, Tassawar Abbas, Imran Junior, Rizwan Ahmed, Mohammad Ateeq, Arsalan Qadir, Mohammad Suleman, Mohammad Dilbar, Irfan Junior, Amir Shahzad, Fareed Ahmed, Mohammad Tauseeq, Shafqat Rasool, Abdul Haseem Khan, Waqas Sharif, Ali Shan.