New Delhi, May 22: The Indian Men's Hockey Team will begin its campaign at the Hero Asia Cup 2022 against rivals Pakistan at the GBK Sports Complex Hockey Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Monday (May 23).
Team India - who are the defending champions - will be led by Olympic medallist Birendra Lakra with an experienced striker and a veteran of four Asia Cups, SV Sunil, as his deputy.
As many as 10 players are likely to make their senior India debut in the tournament. The Indian squad includes Yashdeep Siwach, Abhisek Lakra, Manjeet, Vishnukant Singh and Uttam Singh, who made their mark at the FIH Hockey Men's Junior World Cup 2021. Also new in the squad are Mareeswaren Sakthivel, Sheshe Gowda BM, Pawan Rajbhar, Abharan Sudev and S Karthi.
Speaking ahead of the contest against Pakistan, both Lakra and Sunil stressed on the need to guide the youngsters in the high-pressure game. "Both the teams are young. We specially have a very young team with just 2-3 senior players. So, we need to go match by match. If we get a good result, and we perform well, then our confidence level will also increase," Lakra said.
India pitted with Pakistan and Japan in Pool A
India, Japan, Pakistan and hosts Indonesia are clubbed in Pool A while Malaysia, Korea, Oman and Bangladesh are grouped in Pool B. The Asia Cup 2022 is a World Cup qualifier event.
Both India and Pakistan have won the prestigious tournament three times each, while South Korea is the most successful team having clinched the title four times out of 10 previous editions.
Speaking on India's preparation for the tournament under the guidance of Coach Sardar Singh, Lakra said, "Our preparation has been good. We played a few practice matches where we tried out a few new things. The environment in the team is quite a positive one."
"It is not an easy tournament but if we play according to our plans, and motivate youngsters, we can win. Every team is good and has come prepared because all teams know the World Cup berth is at stake here. So, we are not going to take any team lightly," Sunil added.
After Pakistan, Team India will take on Japan on May 24 before playing hosts Indonesia on May 26.
India vs Pakistan hockey stats:
Head to head:
India and Pakistan have faced each other 177 times at the international level. Pakistan have so far won 82 games while India have come out victorious on 64 occasions. However, in the recent past, Team India hold an edge over their arch-rivals as they've won their last 12 of 13 games, with one game ending in a 2-2 draw at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast in 2018. Pakistan's last victory over India came in 2016 during the South Asian Games final.
Venue: GBK Sports Complex Hockey Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia
Timing: 5 PM IST
Channel: The match will be telecast live on Star Sports First + Star Sports Select 2 SD + HD and
Live Streaming: Disney + Hotstar.