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Hockey

India face Pakistan in Men's Hockey Asia Cup — Preview, When and where to watch, All you need to know

A second-string Indian men's hockey team will have to tactfully deal with the pressure when it opens its title defence against arch-rivals Pakistan in the Asia Cup here on Monday.

Birendra Lakra, captain of the Indian mens hockey team at Asia Cup (Source: Hockey India)
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Birendra Lakra, captain of the Indian men's hockey team at Asia Cup (Source: Hockey India)

By

PTI

Updated: 2022-05-22T20:28:53+05:30

A second-string Indian men's hockey team will have to tactfully deal with the pressure when it opens its title defence against arch-rivals Pakistan in the Asia Cup here on Monday.

While Pakistan has fielded quite a few new faces in the tournament, India will be represented by its 'A' team under the leadership of veteran Birendra Lakra, who came out of retirement after the Tokyo Olympics.

For India, the Asia Cup provides a platform to test its bench strength ahead of a busy season, which includes the Birmingham Commonwealth Games and the FIH World Cup next year for which the Tokyo Olympic medallists have already qualified as the host nation.

Pakistan, on the other hand, is looking at the tournament to make the cut for the 2023 World Cup in Bhubaneswar. The top three teams in Asia will qualify directly for the January showpiece.

Both India and Pakistan have won the Asia Cup thrice each. India had won the last edition in 2017 by beating Malaysia in the final in Dhaka.

India's 20-member squad, to be coached by former captain Sardar Singh, was originally supposed to be led by Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist Rupinder Pal Singh, who also came out of retirement but a wrist injury ruled him out of the tournament.

The Indian squad includes another veteran in SV Sunil, who too returned from retirement and is regarded as a livewire on the field.

Sunil, who had missed the Tokyo Olympics squad due to an injury, will serve as Lakra's deputy.

The Indian team has as many as 10 players who are set to make their senior India debuts, including Yashdeep Siwach, Abhisek Lakra, Manjeet, Vishnukant Singh and Uttam Singh.

They were all part of the junior World Cup. Besides, the side also has new players like Mareeswaren Sakthivel, Sheshe Gowda BM, Pawan Rajbhar, Abharan Sudev and S Karthi and it remains to be seen how Sardar gets the best out of these youngsters.

The new players know that a good outing in the Asia Cup can open the doors for the Commonwealth Games team as the national selectors and chief coach Graham Reid would be closely following the proceedings.

For India, Simranjeet Singh, who was part of the Tokyo Olympics squad, will make a comeback in the forward line after a long injury lay-off. But the onus would be on the handful of seniors to guide the youngsters in the clash.

"It (pressure) is always there (in Pakistan match). Any match against Pakistan is always charged up. But being seniors, if we become too excited, the junior players can come under pressure. So we need to take it as a normal match," India vice-captain Sunil said.

"It is not an easy tournament but if we play according to our plan we can win. We need to motivate the youngsters, guide them and take them along. So there are big responsibilities on our shoulders."

Pakistan will be approaching the tournament after a mixed bag tour of Europe under new coach Siegfried Aikman, where the team played five matches -- two each against the Netherlands and Spain and one against Belgium -- out of which it won two.

With both the teams having youngsters, it remains to be seen how the players control their emotions and tempers on the turf.

India vs Pakistan head-to-head record

India have faced Pakistan 177 times. Pakistan lead the head-to-head record by 82-64. But India have won 12 of the last 13 matches, with the only blip (a 2-2 draw) coming at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Pakistan last beat India in the 2016 South Asian Games final.

When to watch India vs Pakistan hockey match

The India vs Pakistan Pool A match at the Hero Asia Cup Hockey 2022 will be played at 5 PM IST (6.30 PM local time) at the Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex, Gelora, Central Jakarta, Indonesia.

Where to watch India vs Pakistan hockey match

The India vs Pakistan Pool A match at the Hero Asia Cup Hockey 2022 will be shown LIVE on Star Sports First, Star Sports Select 2/HD

and will be streamed LIVE on Disney+ Hotstar.

India Squad

Goalkeepers: Pankaj Kumar Rajak, Suraj Karkera.

Defenders: Yashdeep Siwach, Abhisek Lakra, Birendra Lakra (c), Manjeet, Dipsan Tirkey

Midfielders: Vishnukant Singh, Raj Kumar Pal, Mareeswaren Sakthivel, Sheshe Gowda BM, Simranjeet Singh.

Forwards: Pawan Rajbhar, Abharan Sudev, SV Sunil (vc), Uttam Singh, S. Karthi.

Head coach: Sardara Singh

Replacements: Maninder Singh, Nilam Sanjeep Xess; Standbys: Pawan, Pardeep Singh, Ankit Pal, Angad Bir Singh

Pakistan Squad

Goalkeepers: Akmal Hussain, Abdullah Ishtiaq Khan.

Defenders: Mubashir Ali, Emad Shakeel Butt, Hamaduddin Anjum, Muhammad Abdullah, Rizwan Ali.

Midfielders: Umar Bhatta (c), Ali Shan, Moin Shakeel, Abdul Hanan, Junaid Manzoor, Ghazanfar Ali.

Forwards: Abu Bakar Mahmood, Ejaz Ahmed, Rana Abdul Waheed, Muhammad Salman Razzaq, Roman, Afraz, Abdul Hanan Shahid.

Head Coach: Siegfried Aikman

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