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Sultan Azlan Shah Cup: India to face Pakistan in do-or-die encounter

India Hockey Team after facing two straight defeats from the hands of Australia and South Korea is set to take-on arch rival Pakistan on day three of Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia. Pakistan on the other hand is coming back from a humiliating 6-0 defeat from the Kookaburras, after defeating New Zealand in ? Continue reading

After two straight defeats at the hands of Australia and South Korea, India is set to take-on arch rivals Pakistan on day three of Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia. Pakistan, on the other hand is coming into this game on the back of a humiliating 6-0 defeat to the Kookaburras, after defeating New Zealand in the first game.

2012 Champions Trophy - Day 6 - India vs Pakistan

Just like a typical India-Pakistan encounter, this one is also going to be a cracker, as both teams will have to work hard for a win. India, who have travelled with a young and relatively inexperienced team, narrowly lost their previous two games. However, playing Pakistan in a must-win game will surely motivate them. Coach Michael Nobbs has asked his ‘Men in Blue’ to take the match “just as another one”. The challenges they face though are pretty obvious to everyone in the Indian camp.

The Indian team will be relying largely on Malak Singh and Mandeep Singh as both of them have played pretty well in the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament and are improving with every game. India’s biggest concern is the defense, which was caught napping by the Koreans in the previous match. Goalkeeping is also a major concern for India, as the team has travelled with only one goalkeeper: P.R Sreejesh. The drag-flicking department also looks vulnerable in the absence of leading flickers, and Rupinder Pal Singh looked pretty ineffective in the previous matches.

Coach Nobbs is well aware of weaknesses that India has. While talking to PTI about the drag-flicking department he said, “Gurjinder (Singh) is on the learning process but has the potential to lend support to Rupinder. He is not fully fit but has been brought to gain valuable international experience.” Only Nobbs knows how an injured player will gain experience and be valuable for the team.

Pakistan on the other hand, is all set to battle it out, according to the coach Akhtar Rasol. He said that pressure will play a major role in defining where the pendulum swings in the match. Rasool said that his team will play hard hockey against India, not just for the tournament, but for the upcoming tournaments of the competitive calendar.

After the Pakistan game, India’s next two matches will be against the Black Sticks on 14th March and hosts Malaysia on 15th March.

Published with permission from TRP.

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