After a comfortable win over hosts Bangladesh in their second match of the Hero Asian Champions Trophy, India will go up against arch-rivals Pakistan on Friday. India and Pakistan were declared joint-winners in the last edition in Oman.
While Pakistan are ranked much lower than India, they are capable of pulling off a surprise given their experience. Pakistan have fielded their main team, while India are without the services of star players like PR Sreejesh, Mandeep Singh and Amit Rohidas.
The Indians were held to a 2-2 draw in their opening match by Korea, who came from behind. But the Men in Blue will be high on confidence after blanking the hosts 9-0.
Can Siegfried Aikman spring a surprise?
Pakistan recently roped in legendary Dutch coach Siegfried Aikman as head coach of the national team on a five-year contract. Aikman might not have spent much time with the team yet, but his modern techniques and tactics could just lift the team.
In Pakistan’s first match, where Aikman went up against his former team Japan, the heroics of goalkeeper Mazhar Abbas saw them walk away with a hard-fought goalless draw.
It remains to be seen if Aikman can pull something special out of his hat to surprise the Olympic bronze medalists.
Will there be pressure on India?
India will have the upper hand as they have been in full practice round the year, while Covid-19 has hurt the training of most of the Asian countries.
India put up a disciplined display on Wednesday, although it was against an easier opponent Bangladesh. Dilpreet Singh starred with a hat-trick, while Jarmanpreet Singh scored a brace with his ferocious slap shots.
Pakistan are known for their high-pressing, rough and tough game, but the Indian forward line, led by experienced pros like Akashdeep Singh and Lalit Upadhyay, should be able to get through Pakistan’s defense and star goalkeeper Abbas.
In their previous meeting in the league stages of the 2018 Asian Champions Trophy, Manpreet Singh-led India defeated Pakistan 3-1. Similarly in the 2017 ACT, India thrashed Pakistan 4-0 in the semifinals after having defeated them 3-1 in the league stage.
In eight Asian Champions Trophy meetings between the two, India have won four times, Pakistan twice with the other two matches ending draws.
When and where to watch?
The match will be telecast live on Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1 HD, Star Sports Select 2, Star Sports Select 2 HD and Disney+Hotstar at 03:00 PM IST.
India: Goalkeepers - Krishan Bahadur Pathak, Suraj Karkera; Defenders - Harmanpreet Singh, Gurinder Singh, Jarmanpreet Singh, Dipsan Tirkey, Varun Kumar, Nilam Sanjeep Xess, Mandeep Mor; Midfielders - Hardik Singh, Manpreet Singh, Jaskaran Singh, Sumit, Rajkumar Pal, Akashdeep Singh, Shamsher Singh; Forwards - Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Dilpreet Singh, Gursahibjit Singh, Shilanand Lakra. Head Coach: Graham Reid
Pakistan: Goalkeepers – Mazhar Abbas, Amjad Ali; Defenders - Mubashir Ali, Ammad Shakeel Butt, Tazeem ul Hassan, Muhammad Abdullah, Aqeel Ahmed; Midfielders - Abu Bakar Mahmood, Moin Shakeel, Hamad-ud-Din Anjum, Ghazanfar Ali, Azfar Yaqoob; Forwards - Mohammad Umar Bhatta, Ali Shan, Ejaz Ahmed, Rana Waheed, Junaid Manzoor, Afraz, Ahmed Nadeem, Mohammad Salman Razzaq. Head Coach: Siegfried Aikman