India's second-tier hockey team will have to deal with pressure skillfully when it takes to the field against arch-rivals Pakistan in an earlier encounter to open their title defense in the Asia Cup here on Monday. While Pakistan has brought in some fresh faces in the tournament, India will be representing its 'A' team under the experienced Birender Lakra. Lakra has returned from retirement after the Tokyo Olympics.
The Asia Cup is set to provide India with a platform to test its 'bench strength' ahead of a busy season that includes the Birmingham Commonwealth Games and the coming year's FIH World Cup for which the Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist has already signed on as the host nation. have qualified. On the other hand, Pakistan has tried to qualify for the 2023 World Cup to be held in Bhubaneswar from this tournament. The top three teams from the Asia Cup are going to directly qualify for this tournament to be held in January.
Both India and Pakistan teams have been successful in winning the Asia Cup three times. India had won the last leg in 2017 and defeated Malaysia in the final in Dhaka. Former captain Sardar Singh is working to coach India's 20-member team. The team was earlier to be led by Tokyo medalist Rupinder Pal Singh, who has also made a comeback from retirement but has been ruled out of the tournament due to a wrist injury.
The Indian team includes another veteran SV Sunil who has also returned from retirement and is being said to be very agile and agile in the field. Sunil could not join the Tokyo Olympic team due to injury, he is going to be the vice-captain. There are 10 such players in the Indian team who will be seen making their debut in the senior Indian team which include Yashdeep Siwach, Abhishek Lakra, Manjeet, Vishnukant Singh and Uttam Singh. All of them were part of the Junior World Cup.