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Rediff.com  » Sports » Asiad hockey: Indian men take on Pakistan

Asiad hockey: Indian men take on Pakistan

November 19, 2010 10:03 IST

India are all set to cross swords with Pakistan in a high-octave men's group B clash in what is billed as the 'big moment' of the Asian Games hockey competition at the Aoti fieldĀ on Saturday, with the latter looking to avenge their three previous defeats to their arch-rivals this year.

Penalty corner experts -- Sandeep Singh of India and the recalled Sohail Abbas of Pakistan could make a difference between laurels and brickbats.

India go into the match against their South Asian rivals with their confidence high after a 9-0 thrashing of Bangladesh for their second victory in the league following a lung-opening 7-0 win over minnows Hong Kong in the first match.

More important is the fact that they had beaten Pakistan by a handsome 7-4 margin in the league stage of the Delhi Commonwealth Games only last month on the way to taking the silver medal behind champions Australia.

That was the first time ever India attained medal standard in CWG history. In two previous clashes this year, India have beaten their traditional rivals 4-1 in the March World Cup, also in Delhi, and 4-2 in the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament in Ipoh, Malaysia.

And now the Rajpal Singh-led squad prepare to go into the clash with the aim of making it four-in-a-row in 2010. But it is not just India but Pakistan also, who go into the needle clash with big wins to boost them up in the tournament.

Pakistan defeated Hong Kong 12-0 (7-0 half time) in their opening match with Abbas scoring a brace of penalty corner goals.

While in their second match on Thursday, Pakistan came back from 0-1 down to beat Japan 8-2 (half time 3-1) with the drag-flicker again scoring a couple.

Indian custodian Bharat Chetri needs to be at his best with his reflexes and agility to stop Abbas from gaining the upper hand. Apart from scoring those four goals against Bangladesh, Sandeep scored a brace against Hong Kong so that in the mini battle between the two penalty corner experts, the Indian has the upper hand currently.

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