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Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2013
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Emotional `hammer and tongs’ expected for Indo-Pak (3/11/2013)
--B.David
Emotional `hammer and tongs’ expected for Indo-Pak tie

Ipoh, 11 March 2013: Magic moments of hockey will be on display as five-time champions India meet traditional rival Pakistan in the 22nd edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah hockey tournament here on Wednesday.

“It will be a typical India-Pakistan match! Emotions will get caught-up and both the teams will go hammer and tongs on each other. There is absolutely no animosity and it will be good and clean hockey of high quality Asian style,’’ predicted Indian chief coach Michael Nobbs, who is fielding a team that has 10 under-21 players who are playing as a team for the first time here.

``Whatever I plan and strategise will not happen. The players will be carried away in a typical India-Pak game,’’ he added tongue-in-cheek. ``An Indian-Pakistan encounter would be the pre-eminent hockey match in the world any day. The match will produce electric moments and the it would be a classic treat for the fans and I am sure Azlan Shah Stadium will be full,’’ he felt.

“I would pay any day to watch such passionate and quality hockey,’’ he concluded.

The Indian coach also recollected how he went to watch an India-Pakistan match in Amstelveen in early eighties as an youngster.

“When India and Pakistan meet there is no ranking and no favourite. Both can beat each other on its day. Tomorrow is no different and I am sure it would be an exciting game”.

Despite Pakistan’s higher ranking, India and Pakistan teams are always equal and who avails the chances better on the particular day will win,’’ said chief Coach Akthar Rasool.

”It will be always tense to play India and traditionally its tough on the mind,’’ he added and said that it is very important for both the countries to play each other regularly to keep alive the Asian tradition of hockey.

Pakistan defeated New Zealand 4-3 in their first match with skipper Muhammad Imran scoring three goals but lost to Australia next day 0-6. India lost both their matches narrowly to Australia 3-4 and Korea 1-2.

Indian midfield made some silly mistakes that deprived them of a good result despite playing good hockey for better part. Despite the 6-0 thrashing from the Aussies, Pakistan’s five new players have jelled well and the team has the wherewithal to provide a strong fight to India. Whoever wins, the fans will have a gala time!

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