Bhubaneswar, Dec 12: A cracker of a contest is on the cards when a confident India takes on a resurgent Pakistan in what promises to be a battle of attrition between the two traditional rivals at the Hero Champions Trophy hockey tournament, here tomorrow (7.30 PM IST - Live on Ten Sports).
Having peaked when it mattered most, both the sides will be desperate to upstage each other tomorrow to assert their supremacy over each other. The match also provides India an opportunity to avenge their defeat at the hands of Pakistan in the bronze medal match in the last edition of the elite eight-nation tournament held at Melbourne in 2012.
But going by present form and record, India definitely will enjoy an upper-hand over their neighbours. India had been in great form and would definitely take heart from their win over Pakistan in the summit clash of the Incheon Asian Games, which also gave Sardar Singh and Co a direct entry to the 2016 Rio Olympics.
In the Asian Games final, the Indians had to dig deep to eke out the win in a penalty shoot-out but come tomorrow, Sardar and Co can't afford to leave it so late and would be aiming to settle the issue in the regulation 60 minutes. India and Pakistan have a long history of hockey rivalry.
The two nations have a record of facing each other in the first six Asian games finals. They have played in seven finals against each other out of which Pakistan has won six and India has won just one. Both nations have played each other from 1956 to 1964 in three successive Olympic Hockey finals.
India won gold twice while Pakistan won once. But the records are a thing of the past and when the two teams take the ground tomorrow, they will have only one goal, a place in the final of the Champions Trophy. The hosts definitely have looked a better team than Pakistan in the tournament so far.
India produced an inspired performance and came back from two goals down to stun world number four Belgium 4-2 in the quarterfinals yesterday. India showed tremendous fighting spirit to upstage two higher ranked teams - the Netherlands and Belgium - in their last two matches, especially after their dismal outing in the opening two encounters.