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India eye another win over Pak
June 06, 2003 15:57 IST
Having put themselves in a comfortable position for a place in the final, a confident India will be keen to maintain their dominance over arch-rivals Pakistan in their last second-leg league match in the Hockey Australia Men's Challenge in Sydney on Saturday.
The Indians need only a draw to cruise into the final for the second time in the competition and the pressure will be squarely on Pakistan in what promises to be a classic duel of skill and nerves.
The Pakistanis, handicapped by the absence of three senior players, have been struggling to make a mark in the four-team tournament but will be determined to avenge the first-leg defeat at the hands of their traditional rivals.
The team, which went without a win in the first-leg, broke the sequence with a solitary goal victory against Australia 'A' but the 3-4 loss against Australia on Thursday has left them with no option but to get the better of the Indians to keep their hopes of making it to the final alive.
Though the Indians appear quite confident of winning the match, coach Rajinder Singh has warned his boys not to get too complacent as their rivals are capable of turning tables on any fancied team.
"We will have to play really well to beat a vastly improved Pakistani side, who have played superbly in their last two matches. They are limping back to their usual form and we will go all out to beat them tomorrow," Rajinder Singh said.
"A match between the two sides is always special for not only the players but also people worldwide. Tomorrow's match will be fiercer than what Perth saw last week," Rajinder said.
After making several changes to the team for the match against Australia 'A', which the visitors won 4-3, India are likely to bring back regular goalkeeper Devesh Chauhan in place of Kamaldeep Singh, who fully utilised the first opportunity he got on the tour by coming up with at least three brillant saves.
Mercurial striker Dhanraj Pillay, who was rested yesterday, will be back to lead the side against Pakistan.
Despite the youngsters performing well against Australia 'A', seniors Gagan Ajit Singh and Baljit Singh Saini, who were also rested, are likely to return to the side for the match.
Rajinder said India will be continue to play attacking hockey and the high-scoring rate in the last two matches has vindicated the faith he put on his strikers.
"After the Perth leg, where almost all the matches were low-scoring, we started well here, scoring seven goals in two matches. This shows the improvement in our game and the strikers are playing really well, which is a good sign."
Pakistan, on the other hand, are trying hard to cope with the pressure after missing three key players, who were dropped on disciplinary grounds.
In the absence of former captain Mohammad Nadeem, penalty-corner expert Sohail Abbas and Mohammad Wasim, the Pakistani team has clearly struggled to played to their potential in the competition.
The Pakistanis, however, have put up an improved performance in the second-leg, which has raised hopes of a keenly contested encounter between the two arch-rivals.
With the team on a rebuilding process after winning the Azlan Shah tournament in Malaysia in March, a victory against India tomorrow will be the perfect tonic for a brighter future.
Hockey Australia Men's Challenge - Complete Coverage