“If We Play More…”: Harmanpreet Singh On India-Pakistan Hockey Matches

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India are set to take on Pakistan at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Hockey Stadium in Chennai on Wednesday. Host skipper Harmanpreet Singh said that the matches against Pakistan will help both the teams as well as the Asian hockey. He added that the sides should play more against each other. India have already sealed their semi-final berth, while the fate of Pakistan depends heavily on their match against the hosts. While a win will help the visitors enter the knockout stage, a loss will risk their chances of advancing to the next stage.

“Matches are important for any team. If we play more matches together, it will surely help us and Asian hockey as a whole. But, it all depends on the situation, and I feel we should play a lot more against each other,” Harmanpreet said during the press conference ahead of the match.

Asked why the rivalry between the two sides has become less intense as compared to earlier times, Harmanpreet said, “It (the rivalry) has become a lot more different now. Both were very good teams back then. But it’s not that we are winning easily against them (now).

“They have the same mentality, playing styles are same and they also play attacking hockey.”

Indian play international matches regularly and is currently ranked fourth in the world. Pakistan, on the other hand, do not play too many matches these days and they have slipped to 16th in the world. They even failed to qualify in two consecutive Olympics (2016 and 2021) and 2023 World Cup.

“We (India) are playing more matches, which is helping us a lot. They (Pakistan) giving chances to youngsters is a good step,” Harmanpreet said.

India have been inconsistent in terms of scoring regularly from penalty corners. However, the captain feels that there is no need to tinker with their direct-shot approach, saying it would be effective during the upcoming Asian Games.

“As far as the PC is concerned, we are not doing much variation to it and mostly going for a direct shot. I think we can use it during the Asian Games.

“It’s important for the drag-flicker to analyse the defenders rushing in. So, it’s good learning for us ahead of a major competition,” said Harmanpreet, one of the best drag-flickers in the world.

He noted that India has been playing some of its games using the half-court tactic, which seems to be working well. Elaborating on the same, Harmanpreet said that a lot of work was done on the same during the pre-event camp.

“We worked a lot on this (half-court) and we got quite a good result from it. We wait to counter-attack since we are well-known for it. So, I am glad that we are doing well in it, and we are continuously working on how we get better at it.

“There is always room for improvement. We struggled in the opening two games as we couldn’t finish them properly. But we have been clicking in the last couple of matches. We need to convert our chances quickly, besides maintaining the pressure on the opponent and not give away easy chances,” he said.

(With PTI Inputs)

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