Preview: India vs Pakistan hockey match in Asia Cup 2017
India have qualified for the semifinals but the most important game of the pool awaits.
The tenth edition of the Men's Asia Cup Hockey 2017 went underway on October 11 2017 with India being in Pool A along with Bangladesh, Japan and Pakistan. India beat Japan comfortably with a score of 5-1 on the opening day followed by a 7-0 drubbing of Bangladesh 2 days later.
However, the toughest team of the pool awaits India in what seems to be an electrifying battle on Sunday. India face Pakistan at the Maulana Bhasani Hockey Stadium on 15 October 2017 in what will be the final game of Pool A.
Although India have qualified for the second round with two wins under their belt, Pakistan have Japan breathing down their neck. India are the higher ranked between the two (6) and two Asia Cup titles before, but Pakistan have also won the tournament thrice previously.
In the first two games, the Indians have showcased their expertise in one-touch hockey and made effective use of both left and right flanks to hunt for goals. Despite scoring 12 goals in the last two games their penalty corner conversion rate remains a matter of grave concern. Out of 13 penalty corners that they got against Bangladesh, they managed to convert only two.
The last time these teams met each other in the tournament was in 2009 when Pakistan beat India 3-2 and this will be at the back of the mind of coach Sjoerd Marijne who faces a big responsibility of carrying the Indian team forward after replacing the legendary Roelant Oltmans.
Pakistan are ranked 14th in the world at the moment, far behind India, but they cannot be ruled out like the ICC Champions Trophy Final of 2017. Pakistan however, are dented with constant management and security based issues, which are reflecting in their performance as well. The boys in green are trying to catch up with new management in place and some veterans back into the side.
Despite this game technically being a dead rubber for India, they will be working hard for it, as a win here will be a major confidence booster over the course of the tournament. The winners of the tournament directly qualify for the 2018 Hockey World Cup in India and thus, Pakistan will be ready to go full throttle on Sunday. The latter will be eyeing their sixth win against India in Asia Cup, while the men in blue will be looking for their second against their arch rivals.
Akash Chikte (goal keeper), Suraj Karkera (goal keeper), Dipsan Tirkey, Kothajit Singh, Surender Kumar, Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, SK Uthappa, Sardar Singh, Manpreet Singh (captain), Chinglensana Singh, Sumit, SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Gurjant Singh, Satbir Singh.
Mazhar Abbas (goal keeper), Amjad Ali (goal keeper), Muhammad Irfan (captain), Atif Mushtaq, Mubashar Ali, Ammad Shakeel Butt, Abu Bakar Mahmood, Tasawwar Abbas, Rashid Mahmood, Rizwan Jr, Arslan Qadir, Azfar Yaqoob, Umar Bhutta, Rizwan Sr, Ali Shan, Muhammad Atiq, Waqas Akbar and Ajaz Ahmad.