Magicians have Ric up their sleeve

Over the last decade or so, Ric Charlesworth has created quite a reputation for stirring up his sides and turn them from being ordinary to extra-ordinary. And in a dressing room that's young and relatively inexperienced, the veteran tactician has his hands full.

Of the innumerable challenges he has faced, the chief coach of Mumbai Magicians is up against quite a unique problem getting the team combination right. With their opening Hockey India League (HIL) assignment less than a week away, the Magicians had their first training session at the Mahindra Stadium in Churchgate on Wednesday. However, since a quarter of the squad is yet to arrive, Wednesday's practice session turned into more of an informal one. "We'll take a couple of days to get a better feel. Hopefully we'll get most of our squad will be here by then. Some of the boys are stuck in Delhi because of the fog there, they'll be here tomorrow," Charlesworth said after an hour-long session.

The Magicians haven't had an ideal start to their campaign. All four Pakistani players Mahmood Rashid, Fareed Ahmed, Muhammad Tousiq and Imran Butt on their roster who were scheduled to arrive on Wednesday could not make it as their visas did not get processed in time. Team officials said the quartet is likely to join the team in a couple of days, though a definite date wasn't committed. To add to their woes, Spaniard Sergi Enrique too looks unavailable and the Magicians are likely to ask for his replacement.

The Mumbai side plays its first match away from home against a strong Delhi outfit on January 16, leaving Charlesworth only six days to work out the right combination. "It's a very difficult thing to do. You need months actually to put together a team properly. We will see what we can do in a week," he added.

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