Halfway through the competition, this is perhaps the one game everyone will be looking forward to. India versus Pakistan in any sport, any competition always gets the interest like nothing else. It will be no different on Wednesday.
There is no denying that there is some extra energy that somehow comes in every time the two teams play each other. The result becomes only the icing on the cake, but it is the extra energy that makes it special.
However, for us, from the competition point of view, it will be like any other match. We are in this competition to win and for that we need all the points we can get from the league games. In that respect, for us, the worth of the match against Pakistan is three points --- nothing more, nothing less. It will be the same for them as well, especially after losing 5-1 to Australia, so expect a tough encounter.
Having won 5-2 against Malaysia and drawing against Australia before that, the confidence level is high. Of course, there can never be a perfect team, but the overall performance has been satisfactory so far.
We need to keep complacency at bay. The fact that we have beaten Pakistan five times in the last one year — in fact, every time we’ve played them all over the world — will mean nothing when we step on the field on Wednesday. Neither will the fact that they are the Asian Games champions.
SOHAIL A BIG THREAT
Sohail Abbas has not been in great form here so far, but tomorrow could be his day. So, there is nothing that should keep us from going all out against them. At the same time, I am not looking at making any special plans for Pakistan.
We have been following a plan for the last two years and it has begun paying dividends. It has got to do more with our own performance and improving our levels than targetting any particular opponent.
TEST FOR YOUNG GUNS
This will also be a big test for many youngsters in our side, who will be playing Pakistan on a big stage for the first time. After the Australia match, where our youngsters proved they had the nerves to hold the world champions under intense pressure, this will be another test. But this time, more than the skills, it will be a test of temperament. And, I am confident they will prove themselves again.
Pakistan have several experienced players, so it will make it interesting. Their right flank is strong, given they have Shakeel Abbasi and Rehan Butt.
JUST ANOTHER MATCH
At a personal level, I have played a lot against most of these players, so it will be just another match; especially Rehan, who was a team-mate during the PHL. Most of the players from both sides are friends off the field. But on the field, it is a different game altogether. We lost the opening game and Pakistan lost two in a row. With both sides going for broke, the fans can expect some crackling play on Wednesday.