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Only pride at stake for Indians

By V.V. Subrahmanyam

HYDERABAD, OCT. 9. Despite losing the eight-match `Test' series there is still a lot of expectation that India will redeem some prestige in the final encounter at the floodlit Gachibowli hockey complex here on Sunday.

The euphoria of the sensational win in the second Test in Pakistan has died and now it is back to the familiar script — disappointing results from a disjointed outfit. Individually, most of the frontline Indian players can be brilliant. But, what is badly needed is the collective skills to thwart the efficacy of the vastly-superior Pakistanis.

No doubt the coach Gerhard Rach will have one more chance to make a point or two. It is not that the performance was bereft of any brilliance. Like that of Adrian D'Souza under the bar who was solid and the efficacy of Arjun Halappa and Sandeep Singh with his consistency with the drag flick in converting the penalty-corners. In the Amritsar Test, Viren Rasquinha was efficient. But it looked like Viren would have been better off if the support from Sandeep Michael, the withdrawn forward, was more pronounced. India also got a boost with the return of Dilip Tirkey, who according to Assistant Coach Jagbir Singh, is fit and ready to play here.

On the other hand, everything seems to have fallen in place for the Pakistanis in the series so far. The mere presence of Sohail Abbas is a towering strength of inspiration for his team and a major source of headache for the opponents.

Corner conversion

Taking the conversion rate of short-corners to a new plane of excellence, Sohail would definitely love to end the Indian leg on a winning note. He can always bank on the splendid coordination of Gazhanfar Ali, Shakeel Abbasi and Rehan Butt.

There is one significant element as far as Sunday's match is concerned. It is the venue where India had beaten Pakistan twice — in the league phase and then in the final of the inaugural Afro-Asian Games edition last year.

Andhra Pradesh Governor Surjit Singh Barnala will inaugurate the match while the Chief Minister Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy will be the chief guest at the presentation ceremony.

The teams (from):

India: Devesh Chauhan, Adrian D'Souza, Harpal Singh, William Xalco, Sandeep Singh, Ignace Tirkey, Viren Rasquinha, Vikram Pillay, Prabodh Tirkey, V.S. Vinay Kumar, Vivek Gupta, Arjun Halappa, Hari Prasad, Adam Sinclair, Girish Pimpale, Sandeep Michael, Dilip Tirkey and Tushar Khandekar.

Pakistan: Waseem Ahmed, Salman Akbar, Nasir Ahmed, Sohail Abbas, Kashif Jawad, Dilawar Hussain, Mudassar Ali Khan, Shakil Abbasi, Zeeshan Asraf, Adnan Zakir, Adnan Masood, Tariq Aziz, Mohd Shabbir, Ghazanfar Ali, Imran Khan and Akthar Ali and Mohd Imran.

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