Bhubaneswar Buzz

India vs Pakistan Hockey today after this last incident in Bhubaneswar Kalinga Stadium

bhubaneswar pak hockey match

Pakistan players let emotions get the better of them after beating India 4-3 in the Champions Trophy semi-final in December 2014.

The crowd in Kalinga Stadium in Odisha capital Bhubaneswar watched aghast as Pakistani players taunted them with rude gestures including a raised middle finger.

The manner of celebrations by the victorious Pakistani team led to a few suspensions.

That evening on the sports field had a backstory. Barely two months earlier, India had beaten Pakistan in a thrilling shoot-out to win the Asian Games gold and earn a direct berth to the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Today, the two teams meet for the first time since that clash in Bhubaneswar: in Pool A of the Hockey World League Semifinals.

Coming into the event, the Indians are a relatively relaxed bunch and coach Paul van Ass is trying out options. The stakes, however, are much higher for Pakistan. They are yet to seal their spot in the Olympics.

India could afford not to field their best squad in the HWL semifinals, which otherwise is the last chance for some teams to qualify for the Olympics.

The top 4 sides from the 10-team tournament will proceed to the HWL Final to be played in November-December in India. The top-3 teams will qualify for the Rio Olympics.

But some teams ranked slightly lower may also get a chance if any of the countries also feature in the five places available to winners of continental tournaments.

Form book

Going into the contest, both India and Pakistan’s strikers have been erratic and wayward.

India have won their first two outings against France (3-2) and Poland (3-0) but van Ass’ wards were far from impressive.

Pakistan, on the other hand, managed to beat Poland 2-1 before being outplayed by Australia. The Australians hammered Pakistan 6-1 after being 1-1 at half-time.

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