Asia Cup Hockey: India ready with ‘A’ game
A second-string Indian men’s hockey team will have to tactfully deal with the pressure when it opens its title defence against arch-rivals Pakistan in the Asia Cup here on Monday.
While Pakistan will field some new faces in the tournament, India will be represented by their ‘A’ team under the leadership of Birendra Lakra, who came out of retirement after the Tokyo Olympics.
For India, the Asia Cup provides a platform to test their bench strength ahead of a busy season, that includes the Birmingham Commonwealth Games and the FIH World Cup next year.
Pakistan, on the other hand, is looking at the tournament to make the cut for the 2023 World Cup in Bhubaneswar. The top three teams in Asia will qualify directly for the January showpiece.
Both India and Pakistan have won the Asia Cup thrice each. Indiawon the last edition in 2017 by beating Malaysia in the final in Dhaka.
After Pakistan, India will play Japan on Tuesday.