India Hockey
India's big test lie ahead as they prepare to face arch rivals Pakistan in the World Hockey League Semi-Final.IANS

India lie in the second position of Group A, after winning their first two matches of the Hockey World League semi-final against France and Poland in Antwerp, Belgium. These European teams are weaker opponents, if compared to India's opponent on Friday, Pakistan, hence India needs to be on top of their game.

Pakistan have looked less impressive as they were thrashed by Australia, 6-1, in their last match and just managed to defeat Poland in their opener, 2-1. This is not the form that Pakistan would have wanted to carry out before they meet arch-rivals India.

India were not very convincing against France, which they won 3-2. Their defence looked weak against the French side, but they came up with a better show against Poland. They defeated Poland, 3-0, and India dominated the game right from the start.

Not only did their defence stand firm, but the forwards also converted chances that came their way.

Still, India need to step up their game against Pakistan, which will be eager to come up with their best performance against India, as their 2016 Rio Olympics berth is also on the line. India have already qualified for the Olympics.

India might not be much worried about their forwards, who can score goals, but the most important question remains as to how the Indian defenders will cope up with the pressure if Pakistan go full tilt at them.

Under Paul van Ass, their new coach, they have been learning different strategies and it is time for them to put that into practice.

"The key tomorrow will be our defence and I think the responsibility of defending starts from the forwards where the job will be to take the ball back and counter attack. This also clearly means, do not allow them easy access to our D and ensure that we keep them at bay. We have been working on the 10-on-10 strategy for the upcoming two matches and tomorrow will show us where exactly we stand in our strategies," Hockey India official website quoted India's captain Sardar Singh as saying.

Captain Sardar Singh is going to be a key member of the Indian team in midfield and he will use his experience to make sure that they find success in this big match.

Sardar Singh is aware that a victory against Pakistan will guarantee them a first/second position in the group, depending on their last match result against Australia.

India have to be wary of Pakistan, which comprises a number of experienced players and they know what it takes to defeat India as well. When the two teams met last in the Champions Trophy semi-final, Pakistan turned victorious with the score reading 4-3.

"Pakistan is a very aggressive team and they have experienced players while ours is relatively a young team. But I don't think that is anywhere in our minds. The team's focus is on creating penalty corners and capitalising on them. Be aggressive in their D and within those few seconds score that goal," said van Ass.

Though van Ass' may want to get as many penalty corners as possible, India have not been dealing with it efficiently. The Indian team cannot be blamed for it too with their best drag flicker, Rupinder Pal Singh having missed last two matches in the competition as he was injured during the warm-up game.

The Indian team are going to be upbeat as Rupinder Pal Singh is expected to feature against Pakistan, which will increase India's chances during penalty corners.

Where to Watch Live

Get the Live Blog and Updates of the Match HERE

The World Hockey League semi-final clash between India and Pakistan is scheduled for 4pm local time (7:30pm IST, 7pm PKT) with live TV coverage in India on Star Sports 1 and Star Sports 1 HD with live streaming option on Audience in Pakistan can catch the game live on PTV.

Ireland and the UK viewers can follow it live on Sky Sports, with the live stream option on Sky Sports

Viewers in Belgium can watch the game live on Telenet, while Australian viewers can catch the action live on Fox Sports and Foxtel.