Penalty corner specialists will determine Sunday's India-Pak match | india | Hindustan Times
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Penalty corner specialists will determine Sunday's India-Pak match

india Updated: Feb 27, 2010 23:16 IST
Drag flickers

Drag flickers will determine the course of the hockey World Cup group B game between arch-rivals India and Pakistan on Sunday, former internationals say.

The game could go either way and the team capable of overcoming the pressure will have the last laugh, three yesteryears' hockey stars told IANS.

"Both teams have 50-50 chances," said Ajitpal Singh, who captained the Indian team that won the 1975 World Cup at Kuala Lumpur.

"Whichever team seizes the initiative first will win. But the most crucial role will be of the drag flickers. The result will depend a lot on the performance of drag flickers in each team," said Ajitpal.

Ashok Kumar, who had struck the winner in the final against Pakistan in Kuala Lumpur, said the Indian defenders will have to ensure they do not concede too many penalty corners and give Pakistan's Sohail Abbas a chance to score.

"Rehan Butt is a very proven striker, and India will have to stop him. Waseem Ahmed is very good at ball play. And India will have to keep an eye on him," said Kumar, son of hockey legend Dhyan Chand.

However, he said both teams had good players who can control the game.

Asked about India's chances, Kumar said: "With seventy percent play and 30 percent luck I am sure India can win the match".

Former captain Gurbux Singh said penalty corner specialists Sohail and Sandeep Singh of India would be the deciding factors.

"India have the home advantage but it can also go against them as playing before the home crowd puts you under a lot of pressure," Gurbux said.

Commenting on India's chances in the tournament, Gurbux said: "I will be pleasantly surprised if we make it to the semi final."

He predicts a sixth to eighth position finish for the hosts and feels Australia, Germany and the Netherlands are the favourites to make it to the last four. "India, Spain, Pakistan and England are likely to vie for the remaining semi-final spot."