PR Sreejesh reveals game plan after trouncing Pakistan for Asian hockey honours

'We decided to stick to our natural game play and not let Pak players get us into reacting emotionally'

Asian Champions Trophy hockey
India are the highest-ranked unit in this year's tournament Reuters

Indian hockey captain PR Sreejesh said the Asian Championship trophy was a Diwali gift to the soldiers guarding the country's borders.

Sreejesh, who was out of action in the final due to injury, said it was gratifying to conquer Pakistan yet another time at a global tournament, underlining India's dominance in Asian hockey.

"I dedicate this win for our soldiers who put their life on the line to guard the country when the rest of us are celebrating," Sreejesh told a Malayalam daily.

India defeated arch rivals Pakistan 3-2 in a high quality final match on Sunday. Rupinder Pal Singh converted a penalty to give India the early lead, which was boosted by another goal by Affan Yousuf minutes later. Gritty Pakistan fought back from behind to level with India with two goals, one just before the half time and another in the third quarter.

However, India held nerves and sealed the match with a Nikkin Thimmaiah goal in the 51st minute.

Sreejesh said the game plan against Pakistan was to remain cool under mounting pressure and not to face off Pakistan on an emotional level.

"We were clear that India had the edge over Pakistan on field, but then it's such an emotionally charged matchup," the India captain told Malayala Moanorama. "We decided to stick to our natural game play and decided we won't let Pak players get us into reacting emotionally," Sreejesh added.

'We could think of nothing but victory," he added. Sreejesh however, rued goal scoring opportunities that were missed.

Sreejesh played a stellar role in India's semifinal win against South Korea, unleashing incredible saves in the penalty shootout. But his ankle injury was compounded with the muscle cramps he suffered during that match, and he will be out of action for a few weeks.

He said he hopes to regain fitness before the four-nation Test series in Australia that begins on 23 November.