| Return likely for Saini after rest
Sydney: Having fought into a comfortable position for a place in the final, a confident India would be keen to maintain their dominance over arch-rivals Pakistan in their last league match in the second-leg of the three-nation invitational tournament here on Saturday.
The Indians need only a draw to cruise into the final for the second time in the competition and the pressure will be on Pakistan.
The Pakistanis have been struggling to make a mark in the four-team tournament but will be determined to avenge the first-leg defeat at the hands of their traditional rivals.
Pakistan, who went winless in the first leg, posted a solitary goal victory against Australia A on Wednesday but then lost 3-4 to Australia on Thursday. Now, they have to beat India to keep their final-berth hopes alive.
Though the Indians appear quite confident, coach Rajinder Singh has warned his boys against complacency as their rivals are quite capable of turning the tables on any fancied team.
“We will have to play really well to beat a vastly improved Pakistani side, who have played superbly in their last two matches. They are limping back to their usual form and we will go all out to beat them tomorrow,” Rajinder said.
After making several changes to the team against Australia A, whom they beat 4-3, India are likely to bring back regular goalkeeper Devesh Chauhan in place of Kamaldeep Singh, who fully utilised his maiden opportunity on the tour, coming up with some brilliant saves.
Mercurial striker Dhanraj Pillay who was rested on Thursday will be back to lead the side against Pakistan. Despite the youngsters’ good performance against Australia A, seniors Gagan Ajit Singh and Baljit Singh Saini, who were also rested, are likely to return.
Rajinder said India would continue to play attacking hockey and the high scoring rate in the last two matches had vindicated his faith in his strikers.
“After the Perth leg, where almost all the matches were low scoring, we have started well here scoring seven goals in two matches. This shows the improvement in our game and the strikers are playing really well which is a good sign.”
Pakistan, on the other hand, are trying hard to cope after missing three key players, dropped on disciplinary grounds.
In the absence of former captain Mohammed Nadeem, short corner expert Sohail Abbas and Mohammed Wasim, the Pakistanis have struggled to play to their potential.
However, their performance has improved in the second leg, raising hopes of a keen contest between the arch-rivals.