Returning to the best edition after a slow start, title defenders India will seek to continue their cautious experiments as they face Pakistan’s biggest rivals in their third bout at the Asian Champions Trophy men’s hockey tournament on Friday.
Olympic bronze medalists India did not start the tournament the best, their first since the historic campaign in Tokyo, as Korea with two goals less kept the team led by Manpreet Singh 2-2 at the opening of the tournament.
Stunned by Korea, the Indians took a completely different side against Bangladesh on Wednesday, defeating the hosts 9-0 in an undecided affair. Striker Dilpreet Singh scored a hat-trick from the game, while Jarmanpreet Singh twice found a net from the set-piece while the team coached by Graham Reid experimented with their penalty corners, trying variations instead of direct shots from Harmanpreet Singh and Varun Kumar.
It was a completely dominant portrayal of the Indians in all aspects of the game against Bangladesh, and the holders will look to continue in the same style against Pakistan on Friday.
The Indian defense was well led by Harmanpreet, while the helmsman holds the key in the middle of the field. The striker has shone in the tournament so far with Lalit Upadhayay scoring three goals in two games, while returnee Akashdeep Singh, who missed a place on the Tokyo Olympics team, also wrote his name on Wednesday’s record.
In addition, the Indians cannot afford to relax on Friday, especially against Pakistan, which also boasts a rich hockey history, although the game in that nation has been in decline lately. Pakistan has won three gold, three silver and two bronze medals at the Olympics, and the country would be eager to solidify itself in world hockey, especially after failing to qualify for the Tokyo Games.
India and Pakistan were declared joint winners in the latest edition of the 2018 ACT in Muscat after the final was washed away. According to past records, Pakistan is definitely in the lead, but in terms of form, India will definitely start as favorites on Friday. India and Pakistan met in a record seven hockey finals of the Asian Games.
They played a total of nine mutual finals in which Pakistan won seven and India two golds. Both nations played each other from 1956 to 1964 in three consecutive Olympic hockey finals. India has won gold twice while Pakistan has won once.
The last time both neighbors played each other was in the ACT championship stages in 2018 where India beat their neighbors 3-1. Friday’s victory will secure India a place in the semi-finals of the five-nation tournament. Malaysia was the sixth nation to fight, but withdrew at the last minute due to problems related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
India currently leads the table with four points, while Pakistan is in fourth place after a goalless draw against Japan.