| Dilip Tirkey is India’s key marksman
Perth: The stage is set for another duel between arch-rivals India and Pakistan who clash here on Saturday for a place in the final of the three-nation invitational hockey tournament.
India hold a slight advantage, having won one of their two previous league matches, and need only a draw to qualify for the final. Dilip Tirkey and Gagan Ajit Singh scored as India beat Australia A.
However, Pakistan, who suffered a shock 0-3 defeat to Australia A on Thursday, have lost both their league matches so far and must win by a good margin on Saturday to make the final.
Australia have already secured a final berth having defeated both India and Pakistan and are yet to concede a goal in the tournament, a fact that underlines their awesome form.
Knowing full well the hopes of an expectant nation every time they take the field against Pakistan, India will be keen for an Asian Games encore when they beat their rivals by a 4-3 margin in the semi-finals.
The two sides played each other four times last year with India winning thrice. Pakistan’s only victory came in the playoff for the 3/4 place in the Champions Trophy.
The Indians may draw some heart from this record but they know everything else will cease to matter and boil down to their performance on the field.
India coach Rajinder Singh was not exactly a relaxed man because the team’s form has been mixed here. They did well to blank Australia A but got a rude awakening when Australia inflicted a 2-0 defeat on them.
“We were done in by poor defence against Australia. Also we were put under pressure right from the start as we conceded a goal in the very third minute,” said Rajinder.
“But we had an extensive training session today where we tried to plug in the loopholes. We will be fresh for the match and the mood in the team is very upbeat,” said the Indian coach who guided the junior side to World Cup glory in 2001.
Pakistan coach Tahir Zaman was equally hopeful of putting it across India despite a shock reversal at the hands of Australia A.
India: Devesh Chauhan, Kamaldeep Singh, Dilip Tirkey, Kanwalpreet Singh, Jugraj Singh, Ignace Tirkey, Bimal Lakra, Vikram Pillay, Viren Rasquinha, Prabodh Tirkey, Baljit Singh Saini, Dhanraj Pillay, Baljit Singh Dhilon, Gagan Ajit Singh, Prabhjot Singh, Tejbir Singh, Tushar Khandekar.
Pakistan: Ahmed Alam, Ali Raza, Tarik Imran, Ghazanfar Ali, Mahammad Saqlain, Dilawar Hussain, Rehan Butt, Mudassar Ali Khan, Kashif Jawad, Mahammad Shabbir, Saleem Khalid, Salman Akbar, Zeeshan Ashraf, Adnan Masqood, Aqeel Khan, Shakeel Abbasi, Imran Rasool.