Amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan following the terror attack in Uri that led to the death of 18 soldiers, the Indian national hockey team has vowed to give its best when it faces arch-rivals Pakistan in Malaysia next month.
Acknowledging the supreme sacrifice made by Indian soldiers at the borders, Indian captain PR Sreejesh today said that his team will give its all to beat Pakistan in the Asian Champions Trophy.
Sreejesh did not mention the recent Uri attack but said his team would not want to disappoint Indian soldiers by losing against Pakistan in the upcoming tournament to be played at Kuantan in Malaysia between October 20 and 30.
"India-Pakistan match brings a lot of excitement to the table. We want to give hundred per cent. We don't want to disappoint our soldiers by losing, especially when they sacrifice their lives in the exchange of fire at the borders," Sreejesh said.
Already soured India-Pakistan relationship worsened after Uri attack with New Delhi even pulling out of SAARC summit that was scheduled for November in Islamabad.
India face Pakistan on October 23 in their round-robin match in the tournament to be played among the top six teams in the continent.
Sreejesh also said that Pakistan was currently playing low-grade hockey though they have a special quality of springing a surprise on any given day.
"They are now playing totally a lower-grade hockey. That is what I feel. But they (Pakistan) have a strong mental attitude. They can beat any team anytime. That is their specialty," Sreejesh said at the Sports Authority of India center where the team has been training.
Fresh and rejuvenated after a brief break following their eighth-place finish in the Rio Olympics, core probables of Indian senior men's hockey team had returned to the national camp, which started here on September 18.
The four-week camp has set the momentum for the fourth men's Asian Champions Trophy in Malaysia where India go in as favourites. The camp features 26 core probable, including former captain Sardar Singh and the likes of Akashdeep Singh and Chinglensana Singh.
"We are better placed than Pakistan as we have been playing against top teams around the world. Pakistan on the other hand failed to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in their history," Sreejesh said.
The Indian captain said other teams in the tournament like Malaysia and Korea cannot be taken lightly because they have been making improvements.
"We cannot say that Asian Champions Trophy is that easy a contest. The Koreans are in the process of developing their team. Malaysia is working towards getting noticed at international level," he said.