Indian hockey has benefitted from franchise-based league: Pak captain
At the recent Asian Champions Trophy, India beat Pakistan 3-1 in the league stage following which rain forced them to share the title in the final
India v Pakistan was the beginning of hockey rivalry on the global stage. Emotionally charged close matches were almost always the order of the day since the early 1900s. But not anymore. In the recent past, World No. 5 India are not just way above World No. 13 Pakistan in the rankings ladder, but in terms of performances too, the Indians have had their tails up. At the recent Asian Champions Trophy, India beat Pakistan 3-1 in the league stage following which rain forced them to share the title in the final.
A couple of months before that, India beat Pakistan 2-1 to win the bronze medal at the Asian Games. Since, 2010 both teams have played each other 35 times, with India emerging victorious 19 times, maintaining a clear supremacy — something that Pakistan skipper Muhammad Rizwan Senior has absolutely no qualms in admitting. "India have been enjoying a fine run in international hockey for a few years now. They are clearly better than us currently. And the main reason for this is that they have benefitted from their franchise-based Hockey India League, where their players have brushed shoulders with the crème de la crème of world hockey," Rizwan Sr told mid-day at the Kalinga Stadium here yesterday.
Learning from the best
"The Indian boys have not just picked up the dodges and skills of the top European and Australian players, they have also noted the weaknesses of these players. So the next time when they face these foreigners on the international stage, the Indians know exactly how to take advantage of their shortcomings. "India have done so well against Australia or at least given them tough fights in the last few years for just this reason," added the experienced Pakistan forward.
However, the numbers and results notwithstanding Rizwan Sr insisted that there is still no dearth of passion when both teams collide. "Our former players would always tell us how they could not eat or sleep well before a match against India. And even today we experience that. "If we lose to India, we don't even feel like eating dinner because we are so disappointed. Even our fans have a clear mandate as far as indo-Pak matches are concerned. "They tell us that we can lose to any team, but not to India. Against India it's always a do-or-die encounter," he signed off.
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