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Lahore prepares for 'mental war'
December 07, 2004 16:31 IST
In this part of the world, nothing could be bigger than a contest between archrivals India and Pakistan -- be it cricket or hockey.
As the ongoing Champions Trophy in Lahore gears up for Wednesday's clash between the traditional rivals, players as well as fans waited with bated breath for what is being billed as the match of the tournament.
The Indians are certainly not in their best of form and have come to the tournament with a young side, but Pakistan are not ready to take any chances.
"It's always a mental war when Pakistan play India," declared Sohail Abbas, world's highest goal scorer.
"We are not taking the young opponents lightly and would be going all out for the kill."
India have lost most of the matches that they played against Pakistan this year but that has not dampened the spirit of the people of Lahore who are likely to watch the match in large numbers.
"We will be there at the stadium to support our team. It is a big match and we don't want to miss out on the action," said Sehbaz, a local resident.
"In the October Test match, Pakistan and India had an exciting match and we enjoyed that a lot. The teams were in their elements then. We would like to see a similar contest tomorrow," he added.
The match had ended in a 4-4 draw then, but Pakistani supporters said they would like to go home on a happier note this time -- Pakistan beating India and booking a place in the final.
DOWN AND OUT
Coach Kevin Towns' "harsh words" seem to have had no effect on New Zealand players as the side's downward slide continues in the Champions Trophy.
Towns had given the team a verbal bashing after it lost to Netherlands in its lung opener on Sunday but that failed to have any effect as the team lost its next two matches as well.
"They can't afford to play like that against other teams. This is not a holiday or a retirement tour. It's important for New Zealand hockey and they've got to realise that and work harder," Towns had said after the team's 2-5 loss against Holland.
But the side suffered further defeats against Pakistan and Spain by identical 3-1 margin even though it played better that what it had done against Holland, it still did not make the coach much happy.
"It was so near yet so far. We played a better game today but still ended on the losing side," Towns said after the game against Spain on Tuesday.
With three losses from as many matches, New Zealand are languishing at the bottom of the table with no points to their credit.
World's most prolific drag flickers Sohail Abbas of Pakistan and Taeke Taekema of Holland are in for a tough time as far as goal scoring from penalty corners is concerned.
The International Hockey Federation has decided to restrict the curve (bow) of the sticks to 2.5mm beginning 2006.
Currently drag-flickers are allowed to curve their stick to 4.7 mm but in ayear's time they would have to cut down on the curve.
The curve adds to the scoring abilities of the players as a bigger curve means they can flick the ball with much more speed after dragging it in with a perfect hold.
Legendary coach Paul Lissek, however, does not agree that the rule change will in any way affect top players who seem to have mastered the art of drag flick.
"I don't think it will make much of a difference. The expert drag flickers have the ability to score under any circumstances so they will sore in any given situation," Lissek said.