Asia Cup Hockey: In-form India eye yet another Pakistan scalp
High on confidence following their impressive string of performances, an in-form India would look to maintain their unbeaten run when they take on arch-rivals Pakistan in their third and final Super 4 match of the 10th men's Asia Cup, here on Saturday.
Indian players in action against Pakistan. (Hockey India/Twitter)
Dhaka: High on confidence following their impressive string of performances, an in-form India would look to maintain their unbeaten run when they take on arch-rivals Pakistan in their third and final Super 4 match of the 10th men's Asia Cup, here on Saturday.
Going by their recent form and domination, India, the top-ranked side in the tournament, will start as overwhelming favourites against the world ranked 13 Pakistan, a nation with a glorious hockey history but currently struggling to get themselves back on the world map.
In the recent past, India have completely dominated over Pakistan, and the Manpreet Singh-led side would look to continue their stranglehold over the neighbouring country.
Barring the 1-1 draw against Korea in their first Super 4 match, India have been in red hot form in the tournament,having scored some beautiful field goals and displaying what they are best known for, one-touch attacking hockey.
The match against Korea seemed to have come as a wake-up call for the Indians, who are playing their maiden tournament under the new chief coach Sjoerd Marijne.
The draw against Korea acted as the right catalyst for India as they came out all guns blazing against the ever-impressive Malaysia and routed them 6-2 in their second Super 4 match yesterday.
India are atop the table in Super 4 stage with four points from a win and a draw, followed by Malaysia (3 points), Korea (2 points) and Pakistan (1) from two games each.
Come Saturday, a draw would be enough for India to seal their place in the Sunday's summit clash as they enjoy a better goal difference than any other side.
But it would be easier said than done as there is nothing to lose for the Pakistanis, who would be keen to prove a point to the world that they should not be considered pushovers.
However, the situation is far from rosy for Pakistan as they not only would have to beat India by a big margin to stand in with a chance to qualify for the final but their fate will also depend on result of the other Super 4 match.
With one foot in the final, the Indians though cannot afford to take Pakistan lightly as they very well know that irrespective of current form, the result of any India-Pakistan hockey encounter depends on how well the teams handle pressure and emotions on the turf.
But all said and done, the Indians are expected to come out with flying colours and any result apart from that would be a dampener for Majirne's boys, who have displayed outstanding hockey so far in the tournament.
What has been the hallmark and most eye-catching thing for India in the tournament is the performance of their forwardline.
The Indian strikers comprising Akashdeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh, SV Sunil, Lalit Upadhyay and young Gujrant Singh have been terrific upfront scoring fantastic field goals.
The Indian midfield have been held well by skipper Manpreet Singh and Chinglensana Singh, while veteran Sardar Singh has done exceedingly well as the central defender and the linkman between the midfield and the forwards. Meanwhile in the other Super 4 game of the day, Korea will face Malaysia.
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