Breda (Netherlands): The Indian hockey team would be aiming for a fresh start, putting behind the disappointments of a poor Commonwealth Games campaign, when they begin their pursuit of a maiden Champions Trophy title as they take arch rivals Pakistan in the opening clash, here Saturday.
Even though India (sixth) are way ahead of Pakistan (13th) in world rankings, it does not really matter in this high profile encounter with adrenaline running high on both the sides.
In the recent past, however, India have dominated Pakistan. The Men in Blue have achieved convincing victories in the final of Asian Champions Trophy in 2016 followed by a dominant double victory in the Hockey World League Semifinals in London 2017 and the Asia Cup in Dhaka.
For Harendra Singh, who took over coaching of the senior team for a third time following his last stint in 2009, it will be his first real test.
“Getting off to a winning start is vital because it sets the momentum for the rest of the tournament. There will be no room for emotions when we take on Pakistan. The team will play against them like any other team where we go for three points,” Harendra said on the eve of the match. “We have prepared well and are confident of a good performance.”
Goalkeeper PR Sreejesh has got the captaincy from Manpreet Singh, while SV Sunil and Sardar, who is just two games away from reaching 300 international caps, has been recalled to the side.