Team Profile: Pakistan
Besides hosts India, if anyone that can be guaranteed to capture the maximum eyeballs, would undoubtedly Pakistan.
Pakistan, record holders with four FIH World Cups, emerging victorious in Barcelona (1971), Buenos Aires (1978), Mumbai (1982) and Sydney (1994), have not enjoyed a lot of success of late on the pitch, but however would be keen to set the record straight. They have not finished in the top four of the World Cup or the Olympic Games since winning the World Cup in Sydney in 1994.
Pakistan also lost the final of the Champions Challenge to New Zealand in December 2009, which means that they would miss out on the Champions Trophy, a tournament conceived in Pakistan itself, for the third straight year.
Pakistan had qualified for the World Cup by defeating Japan 3-1 in the final of the first of three World Cup qualifiers. They have been bolstered by the return of Sohail Abbas, one of the biggest names in hockey, an ace penalty corner specialist and all-time world record holder for most international goals (closing in on 300 goals).
Abbas was instrumental in Pakistan making the World Cup cut, scoring a brace in the final against Japan in the final.
Besides Abbas, seasoned strikers Shakeel Abbasi and Rehan Butt, and young turk- forward Muhammad Zubair, would be the key for Pakistan, who, open their campaign against hosts and arch-rivals India.
Under head coach Shahid Ali Khan, who was 17 years old when he won the 1982 World Cup in Mumbai, would be keen for an encore.
In the previous edition in 2006 at Mönchengladbach, Pakistan finished in sixth place, which marked only the second time they failed to finish in the top five in this competition.
Pakistan are one of five ever presents in the World Cup, joining Netherlands, Spain, Germany and India in that respect.