Hockey: India, Pakistan vie for bronze in clash of arch-rivals

India and Pakistan had dominated both their groups and were expected to face off in the final, but shock semifinal defeats to Malaysia and Japan have set up a bronze-medal match.

India's team stand in harmony during the penalty shootout against Malaysia in the semifinal.   -  AP

At some point in the 18th Asian Games, India and Pakistan's men's hockey teams were set to face each other. The arch-rivals avoided each other in the quarterfinals and also in the semifinals, but losses to Malaysia (for India) and Japan (for Pakistan) in the last-four have set up a mouthwatering bronze-medal match for Asian Games supremacy.

India steamrollered five of its opponents en route to the semifinals, beating Indonesia, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and Sri Lanka by an aggregate score of 76-3. India was expected to come through the Malaysian test, but the defeat and the manner of it came as a rude shock.

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So, one of the aspects to look forward to will be how India react after the mental bruising from the loss to Malaysia in the penalty shootout.

Pakistan was just as dominant in Pool B, beating Thailand, Oman and Kazakhstan, Malaysia, and Bangladesh by big margins before suffering a narrow defeat in the semifinals to Japan.

Saturday's meeting in Jakarta will be the 174th between India and Pakistan in field hockey, Pakistan leading the head to head by 82-60. It has won eight of the 14 Asian-Games contests against its arch-rival.

The match begins at 4:00 PM Indian time.