Bhubaneswar's Kalinga Stadium is all set to witness something that dreams are made of when India take on Pakistan in the semifinals of the 35th edition of the Champions Trophy .
In the other semifinal, World champion Australia will meet Olympic champion Germany.
The match also provides India an opportunity to avenge their defeat at the hands of Pakistan in the bronze medal match in the last edition of the elite eight-nation tournament held at Melbourne in 2012. But going by present form and record, India definitely will enjoy an upper-hand over their neighbours.
"The semifinal match with Pakistan is going to be very interesting," said India goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, who was the hero when India last beat Pakistan in the final of the Asian Games.
“We will go with our 9-11 strategy against India tomorrow (Saturday),” Pakistan coach Shahnaz Sheikh said, expecting some raised eye brows.
“Wait, don’t misunderstand me it’s not that 9-11 which you are thinking. It’s a strategy that we have adopted. By 9-11 I mean we will attack with nine players leaving behind two at the back and defend with 11 players. So I call it 9-11,” said the classy center-forward of yesteryears, who was a member of Pakistan’s silver-medal winning team in 1972 Munich Olympics team.
India showed tremendous fighting spirit to upstage two higher ranked teams — the Netherlands and Belgium — in their last two matches, especially after their dismal outing in the opening two encounters.
India’s Record: India might be playing quality hockey in build-up to the semi-final so far, but the tournament’s history is something that the team won’t be proud of. Only medal India boasts of is Bronze medal that too achieved way back in 1982 beating Pakistan in semis. Since then India have not won any medal and finished fourth six times, with latest being in 2012.
Pakistan’s Record: Contrary to India’s record in the tournament, Pakistan have won the Champions Trophy thrice (1978, 1980 and 1994), finished runners-up six times and have won Bronze medal on seven occasions.
Last meeting in Champions Trophy: Last time India and Pakistan met each other in the Champions Trophy was in 2012 at Melbourne, Australia for the Bronze medal match. At halftime scores were levelled at 1-1, but Pakistan won that game by 3-2 and clinched what was their seventh Bronze.
Head to head in Champions trophy: Overall in Champions Trophy the two teams have played 17 times against each other. Pakistan leads with 11 wins while only six have gone India’s way.
Overall last meeting: The two teams met each other in the Asian Games final in Incheon, South Korea earlier this year and India won 4-2 on penalties.
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