‘Battle of Green’
Any sporting event between India and Pakistan always has unlimited enthusiastic cheering for both the countries. Come Sunday, India will be meeting Pakistan in a showpiece hockey match of the Asian Champions Trophy in Kuantan District of Malaysia. An India-Pakistan hockey match is always a game of emotions, especially when tensions are high on the borders. No doubt these popular encounters showcase skill that attracts millions of spectators to the sport. Hockey’s popularity has a lot to do with the India-Pakistan matches. Pakistan is the two-time defending champion in the Asian Champions Trophy. After the World League Semifinals in Antwerp last year, the Pakistan team’s only outing was the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. Pakistan was missing from the Olympic Games line-up after failing to earn qualification through the Hockey World League. A loss in the final of the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon to India meant the automatic Asian qualification went to the Indians, who were the only Asian team featuring in the Olympic men’s event in Rio de Janeiro. India carries lot of international experience in recent years as compared to Pakistan. After the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where India finished last in the12-team event, the Indian team has worked on a five-year play. Since then, the Indians have played more than 200 matches and their international experience is a reason for climbing up the world rankings. Seeking to cool the nerves of players, Indian captain Sreejesh said the preliminary league fixture against Pakistan was just one of the matches. India had won the inaugural Asian Champions Trophy in 2011 by defeating Pakistan in the final. Pakistan reversed the result in the title encounter the following year. Pakistan retained the title by defeating Japan in the final in 2013, when India sent their under-21 team and finished fifth. Indian players need to keep their emotions in check in ‘Battle of Green’ before any untoward incident takes place in view of the on-going stand-off and spoil the spirit of the game.