India take on China in 2nd Asian Champions Trophy opener
Riding a wave of confidence after an impressive fourth place finish in the 34th FIH Champions Trophy hockey tournament in Melbourne, Indian senior men’s team would be looking to continue their good run when they take on China in the opening match of the second Asian Champions Trophy beginning in Doha on Thursday.
The blue shirts, who are the defending champions, having pipped arch-rivals Pakistan in the final match in a penalty shootout last year, would be seeking a morale-boosting win against China – the same opponents they faced in the opening game of the inaugural edition.
India would draw plenty of optimism from that opening game against hosts China which the blue shirts won by a 5-0 resounding margin. Gurwinder Singh Chandi, Yuvraj Walmiki, Rajpal Singh and drag-flickers – Vokkaliga Raghunath and Rupinder Pal Singh scored for India in that match.
India drew their second game against Japan 1-1 before scripting an emphatic 5-3 win over Korea in their third game. They aslo drew their fourth game against Malaysia 2-2 before coming from two goals down to hold Pakistan to a 2-2 draw in their final league tie.
India outduelled Pakistan 4-2 in the penalty shootout of the final match after both teams were locked goalless in regulation time.
Goalkeeper PR Sreejesh was the hero of the final match, pulling off two crucial saves to help the blue shorts corner glory.In fact, Sreejesh, who missed the 34th Champions Trophy because of a hamstring injury, has fully recovered now and is back in the side, but should face stiff competition from PT Rao, who was a quite a revelation in the 34th Champions Trophy.
Skipper Sardar Singh, SV Sunil, Danish Mujtaba, Kothajit Singh and Manpreet Singh, who all suffered niggles during the Champions Trophy are fully fit after the small break and would be ready to come out all guns blazing.
The tournament features top six nations from the 2010 Asian Games.