It is India vs Pakistan not just in cricket but in hockey as well, rivals face-off in HWL semifinal in London

Sudipta Biswas
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Hockey Asia Cup 2017: In-form India Aim For Yet Another Win Against Arch-Rivals Pakistan

Considering their recent form and domination, India, the top-ranked side in the tournament, will start as overwhelming favourites against the world ranked 13 Pakistan.

Cricket game in London is not only the sporting contest on offer featuring India and Pakistan. Both teams will square up on hockey turf in Hockey World League semi-final

The hockey match will be played 10 miles away from The Oval while the arch-rivals will lock horns with each other at the Riverbank Arena.

This is a rare moment in sporting rivalry as both matches will jostle for the attention of sports aficionados within a gap of three and half hours.

Meanwhile, on the eve of the match, Indian skipper Virat Kohli was asked about this match. He said he had tried his luck at hockey. He also revealed that he is still in awe of how players stand in front of those powerful drag flicks.

“I have played with synthetic hockey balls (during) indoor net session, but never tried hockey. It is very scary I feel, getting hit in the face from a penalty corner (he meant drag flick). I don’t know how those guys do that. You need a lot of guts to do that. I wish our team the best,” he said.

The overseas Indian fans in England are expected to witness both matches as it will take place in different time.

However, the Indian celebrities cutting across Bollywood and politics decided to attend final instead of hockey match which will also grab eye balls.

However, those have already booked their tickets for the cricket match, can’t travel an hour up North to Milton Keynes to see Manpreet Singh’s deft skills, SV Sunil’s searing runs down the wide right.

The sporting rivalry between India and Pakistan is an idea that ignites a certain surge of rage and nationalism in Indian public. Before cricket, it was hockey which used to grab maximum eyeballs on either side of the border as the fast paced sports had seen many classics India vs Pakistan hockey match.

However, those days are gone when a victory against a Pakistan cricket side comprising Imran Khan, Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram and Salim Malik used to evoke a tremendous sense of satisfaction.

Similarly, beating a Pakistan hockey side that had Shahbaz Ahmed, Tahir Zaman or later Sohail Abbas or Rehan Butt would feel special.

Nowadays, it is very different as Indian cricket has edged past Pakistan cricket as they made huge development post 20th century.

But it’s a contest that no one wants to lose. Or rather one can ill-afford to lose.

(With PTI inputs)