After a flying start to the Asia Cup, the Indian side look to iron out a few flaws when they take on hosts Bangladesh in its second Asia Cup clash against Bangladesh on Friday.
India put up a dominant display to beat Japan 5-1 in their tournament opener. Meanwhile the hosts got off to a torrid start, slumping to a massive 0-7 loss against Pakistan. Sjoerd Marijne’s side start as overwhelming favourites and are expected to win the tie comfortably.
India looked impressive from the word go against Japan. The Japan encounter was a stern test for the India and the Manpreet Singh-led side didn’t disappoint at all. Barring the initial setback when Japan equalised in the fourth minute, India dictated the pace of the game and displayed skillful hockey.
They showcased elegant, one-touch hockey and were devastating on the flanks. All eyes, though, are set on Sunday’s match against Pakistan. While the Indian attacking force of SV Sunil, Lalit Upadhyay, Ramandeep Singh and Akashdeep Singh looked imperious going forward, the young Harmanpreet Singh not only held the defence together, but was a force to reckon with while taking penalty corners, converting two of them.
The Asia Cup is India’s only tournament before the year-ending big event, the Hockey World League Finals in Bhubaneswar, and Marijne is looking at the ongoing tournament to assess his resources.
Despite handing out a thrashing, Marijne was not entirely satisfied with his team’s display. “As a coach, I am always critical so I have to say I am not 100 per cent happy with how we played. I believe we can do better but this was our first match and now that the team is done with shaking off the initial jitters, I think we can focus on improved performance in the next game,” he was quoted as saying by PTI. “If we are able to do that (stick to our plans), then I don’t see why we should not win the match,” the Dutchman added.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh skipper Rashel Mahmud was candid with the hiding that his team received in their tournament opener, but wowed to bounce back against the two-time winners: “We did not play a good match against Pakistan and made a lot of mistakes that led them to score so many goals. It was a bad start but we don’t want to let this loss affect our confidence. We will comeback as a better team against India,” the skipper said.