Classic India-Pakistan opener in final edition of FIH Champions Trophy

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This will be the last FIH Champions Trophy and it will take off with a classic opening match between India and Pakistan on June 23 in Breda, Holland.

These two teams have a long history of rivalry and their matches are one of the most watched game in world hockey.

After 37 years the FIH has decided to put the Champions Trophy pasture. A new world tournament format will follow in 2019.

Besides the two Asian giants, the other four teams in the fold are world number one Australia, Argentina (2nd), Belgium (3rd) and fourth-placed Holland.

The other matches on the opening day will see the Dutch playing Argentina and Australia meeting Belgium. The tournament is usually reserved for the top six teams.

But Pakistan ranked 13th was the exception for Breda.

It is only fitting that the Pakistanis are invited to play as they founded the tournament and its Trophy was also donated by them in 1978.

The former Pakistan Hockey Federation President Air Marshal Malik Nur Khan who was the brains behind the formation and donated the trophy which is still used till this day.

The Pakistanis have won the tournament three times. But their last win was in 1994, the same year they last won the World Cup. They were the first two winners in 1978 and 1980.

The Pakistanis are the only Asian team to have to have won the tournament.

The Australians have won the trophy fourteen times, the Germans (10), and the Dutch eight times. Spain is the only other team to have won the title in 2004.

The Australians have taken part in all the tournament except in 2004. The Germans are the next highest participant with 32 appearances.

This year the tournament also comes ahead of the World Cup which will be held in Bhubaneswar, India in November.  All six teams will feature in the World Cup and their final positions in Breda could well be an indicator if their chances in Bhubaneswar. – BY S. RAMAGURU

THE FIXTURES

June 23: India vs Pakistan, Holland vs Argentina, Australia vs Belgium

June 24: India vs Argentina, Holland vs Belgium, Australia vs Pakistan

June 26: Argentina vs Belgium, Holland vs Pakistan

June 27: India vs Australia

June 28: Argentina vs Pakistan, India vs Belgium, Holland vs Australia

June 29: Belgium vs Pakistan

June 30:  Argentina vs Australia, Holland vs India

July 1: Final and classification matches

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