Michael Nobbs: Traditional, attacking hockey battle in the offing in India vs Pakistan clash

Michael Nobbs

This is it! The game hockey lovers around the world can't wait to see is upon us. The clash between the two great hockey nations - India vs Pakistan. It's going to be a thriller, with both the teams not only playing for a win, which will determine the placings at the end of the round games, but far more that is at stake.

Michael Nobbs: Traditional, attacking hockey battle in the offing in India vs Pakistan clash

File picture. AFP

Pride, this is never just an ordinary game. No matter how the respective coaches plan tactically, I have found that the game invariably ends in an end-to-end attacking battle and many of the games are drawn or have just a goal in it. I expect nothing different this time.

Another matchup: PR Sreejesh vs Imran Butt - the battle of goalkeepers. Both proven players, and the clash will a battle as to who can keep the ball out. They will both be tested as their respective team-mates will be playing very aggressive and attacking hockey.

India have potentially the best penalty corner line-up in VR Raghunath and Rupinderpal Singh, but they have failed to impress in the first few games. I am hoping this big occasion will bring the best out in them both.

Young Indian player Manpreet Singh, named Asia's Junior Player of the Year, has had an outstanding year and will need another good game here to ensure a win for India.

Two great world class players: Sardar Singh (191 caps) vs Shakeel Abbasi (246 caps). Both seasoned veterans and what a match-up will that be. The battle between these two could well determine the result.

Pakistan have the edge on experience with captain Muhammad Imran (216 caps), Muhammad Waqas (200 caps) and Fareed Ahmed all proven performers on the world stage. While India lack in experience, they bring youthful enthusiasm to the battle.

India have two injuries - with Chandi and Rupinderpal in doubt for this game. These two players will be vital in India's planning for this match, and Terry Walsh will pray they are available for selection.

Pakistan have been in the wilderness for the past 18 months but with such an experienced team will not find it hard to bring themselves back up to international standard and be ready for this game.
Pakistan have a one-goal difference but are still to play Oman, and India are yet to play China.

I don't think a draw will be enough for India, as Pakistan have the easier final match. The result of this match will probably see the loser play South Korea in the first semi-final and that will be a very tough game. At the start of the Games, I predicted a South Korea vs India final but let's hope they not meet in the semis.

There is great hope that a bilateral series can be arranged between the two archrivals, so as to improve the standard of Asian hockey in world rankings. There is nothing better than seeing the magic that these two teams can and will produce. We are all excited and just can't wait for the starting whistle. Go India!

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Updated Date: Sep 25, 2014 12:30:37 IST

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