This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
India's big hockey wins
See graphic, 'India's big hockey wins, 1934- June 2017'
See graphic, 'Seven incidents when India have lost the hockey match with seconds remaining in elite tournaments, 1998-2016'
The 1973 low, the 1975 high
It was like 1975. On each match-date from 46 years ago in that historic Hockey World Cup, which India won, Kumar would send a narration. "Aaj humara Australia se muqabala hai... (Today we play Australia)" is how the son of the legendary Major Dhyan Chand would begin, before painting the words with his impeccable Hindi. All those who received these messages over the last fortnight lived every moment of that hockey history. The messages are a treasure trove for every hockey lover. The words breathe the connection Indians used to have with the sport.
Victory against Pakistan in the final in 1975 made it sweeter. But how much that World Cup title mattered to Indians in general can be measured with what happened before the semifinal against Malaysia. The Indian team boarded the bus at 8 am. The maddening crowds on the streets of Kuala Lumpur felt like every road led to the Merdeka Stadium. That's when Kumar chose to use his penchant for singing to motivate the team on the way to the stadium.
"Mera rang de basanti chola geet ki taan chhed di (started singing the patriotic song). Sabhi khiladiyo ne swar mei swar mila liya...pura mahaul desh bhakti ke rang mei rang gaya (all the players joined in to sing the song and the atmosphere was alive with the emotion of patriotism)," Kumar wrote in his message on March 13.
What happened later inside the dressing room filled the team with a sense of responsibility and pride.
"The players were ready for the match," Kumar's message, written in Hindi originally, read. "A lady entered the dressing room and took out a photograph from her purse. It was an image of the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
"The players bowed their heads in respect, as the lady said, 'Today you have to play for the pride of the Guru' and started crying."
INDIA ENTERED THE FINAL
India went on to win the semifinal 3-2, but that was after some "sense" prevailed among the Indian team management led by coach GS Bodhi and manager Balbir Singh Sr.
"Some sense prevailed among our management, and five-six minutes before the final hooter, they pulled out defender Michael Kindo and replaced him with Aslam (Sher Khan). Aslam scored the equaliser to make it 2-2," said Kumar talking to Timesofindia.com. Harcharan Singh then scored in extra time as India beat the hosts to enter the final. "Five-six minutes on grass is not much; it's a lot on turf these days but not on natural grass we played on in our time. Aslam scored off the penalty corner. Those four minutes earned him a place in the team for the final," Kumar told TimesofIndia.com.
THE PAIN OF 1973
The biggest motivation for the 1975 edition of the World Cup, though, had its source in the defeat in the 1973 final. Kumar and some of his team-mates had lived with that pain for two years, especially Kumar, who missed a goal.
Amid drama, India lost the final to the Netherlands in a penalty shootout after the regulation period ended with the scoreline reading 2-2 and extra time failed to break the deadlock.
"It created a void in my life. Our team led (Netherlands in the final) by a two-goal margin. But then the match ended in a draw, went to extra time, I missed a goal and then we lost in sudden death (penalty shootout). That was one such void, and still is. We remember wins, but also the losses," said Kumar.
"There was not a single day or night when we forget our 1973 WC defeat," he said, with pain discernible in his voice.
"Hum baat nahi karte the, hum rote the (we didn't talk about it, we used to cry over it). The World Cup means the World Cup. Hockey was regarded very highly in the country at that time. We won the cricket World Cup later (1983). The first World Cup for the country had slipped from our hands in 1973," Kumar told TimesofIndia.com.
'KUCCH BHI HO JAYE' (NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS)
Besides the pain of 1973, there were a few hiccups in India's road to the final in 1975.
A draw against Australia and an upset defeat to Argentina shook the team a little. Kumar was rested for the latter game, and the team paid for that complacency against the Argentines.
"(After) missing out on those points in the league stage, it was a comeback of sorts," Kumar recalled, before sharing another little anecdote about a moment that lifted him. The team was entering the hotel to check in. This was before the tournament. The lobby was abuzz as the World Cup trophy was being displayed. It couldn't miss Kumar's eyes, and sort of reopened the wound of 1973 and gave him a sense of determination.
"I went closer to it (the trophy), stared at it. It gave me a boost. Iss Cup ko nahi chhorna hai, kuchh bhi ho jaaye (we won't miss winning this Cup, come what may)," Kumar narrated.
'BAU JI KI THAPKIYA' (PATS ON THE BACK BY DHYAN CHAND)
The win in the final had an extra dash of sweetness as it came against archrivals Pakistan, who had won the inaugural edition of the tournament in 1971.
For Kumar, it was salvation of sorts. After missing that goal in the 1973 final, he scored the winner in 1975. India won 2-1, with Surjit Singh Randhawa scoring the equaliser after Muhammad Zahid Sheikh had put Pakistan ahead.
In the 51st minute, Kumar finally redeemed himself.
"When that winning goal came off my stick, then I felt that I can stand in front of my Bau ji (father Dhyan Chand), that I have won a gold medal." The legend of Indian hockey, Dhyan Chand, Kumar's Bau Ji (father), now had another gold-medal winner in the house.
"I reached Ranchi. A passage of 3 km from Jhansi station to my home, we covered in 3 to 4 hours. Such was the welcome I received," Kumar recalled.
His father, mother and sisters were waiting at the door. But Dhyan Chand didn't say a word when he met his son. He was not in favour of Ashok playing hockey.
"He used to say 'hockey mat khelo, hockey se career nahi banega'. He was right. There was no career in hockey those days. It was not professional like today," the 70-year-old Kumar said. "Darwaze par maa, Bau ji or behne khadi thi (my mother, father and sisters stood at the entrance of our house). I touched their feet. Bau Ji ne bas thapkiya di peeth par (my father patted my back), no words," he reminisced.
"Un thapkiyo ne sab keh diya (those pats said it all). We never used to interact much; that's how it was in those days. But it told me that he was happy ke unke ghar se kisi aur ne bhi bharat ke liye gold medal jeeta hai (that someone else from his house has also won gold for the country)."
India’s worst defeats
India’s worst hockey defeats at The Olympics and major international tournaments.
India at Men's hockey at Olympics, 1928- 2016
The Times of India, Aug 14, 2016
How the Anglo-Indian community created two No 1 hockey teams
Community set the foundations for the game here. And it was their post-Independence exodus to Australia that built up the sport in that ex-colony Every four years, a billion-plus Indians pray that our hockey team should win a medal at the Olympics, as it has done eleven times before. This year the Indian team does, indeed, stand a chance. But, let's face it, India's 'Golden Age' of hockey is long gone. That Golden Age was between 1928 and 1956. Some pundits, however, would narrow it down to the period 1928-1936, when India, in its first three Olympics, annihilated all opposition, with the incredible goal ratio of 97:3, thus acquiring the reputation of being "magicians with hockey sticks". It's an era we automatically associate with the legendary Dhyan Chand. But it's strange that many of us know nothing about the large number of Anglo-Indian hockey stars without whom it wouldn't have happened. A quick glance at the numbers says it all: At the 1928 Olympics, eight of the Indian XI were Anglo-Indians; at the 1932 Olympics seven of the Indian XI were Anglo-Indians; at the 1936 Olympics six of the Indian XI were Anglo-Indians. But, as Frank Anthony, an Anglo-Indian leader of the time remarked, the hockey talent of this little community ran so deep that it could have perhaps produced six times those numbers of world-class players. Hockey maestros like Carlyle Tapsell, Broome Penniger, Richard Allen, Dickie Carr, Leslie Hammond, the Goodsir-Cullen brothers and Joe Galibardy — now long-forgotten — all played a key role in India's dominance of the game. If Dhyan Chand was "the world's greatest centre forward", Broome Penniger was the world's greatest centre-half and Richard Allen was the world's greatest goal-keeper (allowing only two goals through all the Olympic games of 1928, 1932 and 1936, an amazing record). The other Anglo-Indian stars were not far behind in their prowess, combining a high degree of artistry with a robust aggressiveness.
So what was the reason for this domination of hockey by the Anglo-Indians — who, after all, accounted for only about 0.1% of India's population at the time?
The answer lies in the fact that the game came to India with the British army in the 1880s. While the officers played cricket and polo, the ordinary British soldier preferred the rugged game of hockey. The soldiers first played between themselves, and then they began to play with teams raised from local organisations, like the railways, police and port authorities — all of which employed significant numbers of Anglo-Indians. Soon, hockey was embraced by the Anglo-Indian community as an embodiment of masculine virtue, and it became an integral part of the Anglo-Indian culture: every family pushed their sons to excel at the game. It started in Bengal and by 1895 Kolkata had a number of great Anglo-Indian hockey teams, who battled each other in the newly instituted Beighton Cup Tournament: legendary teams like Calcutta Naval Reserve, Calcutta Rangers, Bengal-Nagpur Railways and Calcutta Customs. In time, leading teams from Mumbai, Lahore, Jhansi and other parts of India joined the fray. Thus, by the time India was officially admitted to the Olympic Games in 1928, there was such an abundance of hockey-playing talent in the country that choosing only 15 players for the contingent posed a problem. Interestingly, Britain, who'd been the hockey champions in the two previous Olympics, quietly withdrew their team at that point — presumably to avoid humiliation from their colonial subjects. They would stay away from Olympic hockey until the end of the Raj.
Meanwhile, Anglo-Indian players played a decisive role in India's Olympic hockey triumphs in 1928, 1932 and 1936. And if World War II hadn't intervened, they would have, doubtless, continued to do so in 1940 and 1944, as well. But after 1947 there was an exodus of Anglo-Indians, and this, obviously, affected Indian hockey significantly. The Indian contingent for the 1948 Olympics in London still included seven Anglo-Indians (it would have been eight, but Joe Galibardy, that brilliant left-half, had to drop out for personal reasons). But by 1952, there were only two Anglo-Indians left in the Indian contingent.
India's loss proved, however, to be Australia's gain. The Anglo-Indian diaspora settled mainly in Western Australia, and created a powerful hockey culture in the state. Soon the Western Australia team began to dominate Australian hockey. And that was the beginning of Australia's emergence as a world hockey power — driven by Anglo-Indian coaches and players, like Trevor Vanderputt, Fred Browne, Merv Adams, Dickie Carr, the five remarkable Pearce brothers, Kevin Carton and Paul Gaudoin. In the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, when India played against Australia, there were five Anglo-Indians on the field — four of them on the Australian side, and only one on the Indian side. And in the 1960 Rome Olympics when India played against Australia, the rival captains in that closely-fought match, Leslie Claudius and Kevin Carton, were both, ironically, Anglo-Indians. Meanwhile, another great Anglo-Indian player, Rex Norris, was masterminding the emergence of the Netherlands as another major world hockey power.
Leslie Claudius, arguably the greatest of the Anglo-Indian players, saw India through to the end of its Golden Age, which culminated in its defeat to Pakistan in the 1960 Olympics. When he died in Kolkata in 2012, largely forgotten, it was the end of an era. In the Rio Olympics, the top-ranked teams are (in ascending order) India, Britain, Germany and the Netherlands. The No 1 ranked team, however, is Australia. There's probably a moral in this story, somewhere.
(Kuala Lumpur) Gold
India scored off field goals through Ramandeep Singh (third minute) and Lalit Upadhyay (29th minute). The ever-improving Malaysia, however, fought valiantly. Its efforts bore fruit in the 50th minute when Shahril Saabah pulled a goal back.
India, ranked sixth in the world, was in for a nervous final 10 minutes but the defence did enough to hold on.
Bronze for Pakistan
Pakistan won the bronze after edging out Korea 6-3 in the third-fourth place play-off match earlier in the day.
The top-ranked India finished unbeaten in the tournament, having won all its matches except for the 1-1 draw against Korea in the Super 4 stage.
The results (final):
India 2 (Ramandeep Singh 3, Lalit Upadhyay 29) bt Malaysia 1 (Shahril Saabah 50).
Third place: Pakistan 6 bt Korea 3.
Jakarta: Rising to the occasion, a young India men's hockey thrashed hosts Indonesia 16-0 to qualify for the Super 4 stage of the Asia Cup. The massive win not only secured In dia's passage into the knockout stage of the tournament but also shut the door on Pakistan.
Both India and Pakistan finished on four points each in Pool A behind Japan but the holders qualified for the Super 4s on the basis of a better goal difference (1).
India needed to beat Indonesia by a 15-0 margin or more to make it to the next round and the defending champions rode on s plendid show from Dipsan Tirkey, who hammered five goals, and Sudev Belimagga, who sounded the board thrice.
Veteran SV Sunil, Pawan Rajbhar and Karthi Selvam scored a brace each while Uttam Singh and Nilam Sanjeep Xess scored a goal each.
Pakistan had lost 2-3 to Japan earlier in the day. PTI
Asian Cup, women
2022: India beats China, wins bronze
Asian Cup hockey: India women beat China to win bronze
Muscat: Last edition champions India defeated China 2-0 to win a consolation bronze medal at the women’s Asia Cup hockey tournament. The Indians left behind the disappointment of their semifinal defeat to Korea and controlled the proceedings in the first two q uarters, scoring two goals in the process,to g o into half time with a 2-0 lead against Chi na. They, however, failed to score any more goals in the second half. Japan emerged champions after beating Korea 4-2 in the summit clash.
Earlier in the d ay, the Indians started brightly and earned a couple of penalty corners and from one such situation, Sharmila Devi gave her side the lead in the 13th minute, scor ing from a rebound after Gurjit Kaur’s initial flick was saved by the Chinese defence.
Asian Champions Trophy
See also the graphic
Man Of The Tournament Rupinder Credits Team's Unity For ACT Title Triumph
If dragflick ace Rupin der Pal Singh is given the task of picking his favourite hunting ground, he won't have to look beyond Malaysia. It was here that he made his international debut in 2010 -as part of the gold-winning Indian team at the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament. His first international hat-trick too came in the same tournament a year later.
And, in Oct 2016 he played a key role in ensuring India reclaimed the Asian Champions Trophy crown, with a 3-2 verdict against arch-rivals Pakistan in Kuantan, Malaysia.
While the win was hailed as a perfect Deepavali gift to the nation by many, the 26-year-old from Punjab be lieves it is testimony of the team's unity and ability to back each other. As the highest ranked Asian side (world No.6), PR Sreejesh and his men were pre-tournament favourites, but what makes the victory count is the way in which the youngsters have stood up. Be it Yousuf Affan in the forward line or Akash Chikte in the goal, the rookie players were far from cookies that crumbled under pressure.
Rupinder, who emerged the highest scorer of the tournament with 11 goals told TOI on Monday , “There were a number of players who didn't have much of a big-match exposure. With them, we ensured they never felt the senior-junior difference.We always tell them, irrespective of the years we have put in, we all work towards a common goal.“ Praising Chikte, who stood in goal in place of an injured skipper PR Sreejesh in crucial matches including the final, the defender pointed out, “Akash is very good goalkeeper who has been improving mentally and game-wise with each match. He played with a very positive mindset and didn't get nervous. We never made him feel he had big shoes to fill. Before and during the match, I made it a point to communicate with him to calm nerves and cheer him up.“
Assessing the team's run, the 6'4“ tall Olympian, said, “We wanted to win the title badly because we didn't want to end up third time unlucky . We had lost two finals -Azlan Shah and Champions Trophy -in recent times, so, we told ourselves we have to win this at any cost.“
Apart from his goal conversion, Rupinder also shouldered the responsibilities in the backline. In the absence of VR Raghunath and Surender Kumar, who was suspended for the last two matches, Rupinder rarely slipped up.
Talking about his scoring spree, Rupinder said, “Personally , it been a dream run. My role is that of a dragflicker and I have always wanted to contribute as much as I can in that area.I missed a few against Korea (in the drawn league match) and I know what accuracy in penalty conversion can do to a team's fortune and I didn't want to let go of that advantage.
Also, before the start of the tournament I worked on a few things and was successful in implement ing them. After the Olym pics we went back to the drawing board and re worked on the penalty cor ner variations, especially faking in dragflicks.“
2021: India loses in SF
Defending champions and Olympic bronze medallists India dished out a below-par performance to suffer a stunning 3-5 defeat against Japan in the second semifinal of the Asian Champions Trophy men’s hockey tournament here.
India were overwhelming favourites after having thrashed the same opponents 6-0 in their last round-robin match, but Japan were a completely different side on Tuesday as they toyed with the defence of the Manpreet Singh-led side.
India’s defence crumbled under relentless pressure from the lower-ranked Japanese and the team could not recover from the early goals conceded.
Japan raced to a 2-0 lead inside the first two minutes and that seemed to have jolted the Indians. Japan scored through Shota Yamada (1st minute, penalty), Raiki Fujishima (2nd), Yoshiki Kirishita (29th), Kosei Kawabe (35th) and Ryoma Ooka (41st). India’s goals were scored by Hardik Singh (17th, 58th) and vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh (43rd). India and Japan had met 18 times before with India winning 16, while Japan emerged victorious only once and one ended in a draw.
Japan will now take on South Korea in the summit clash, while India will be once again be up against Pakistan in the bronze medal clash on Wednesday. In the other semifinal, South Korea beat Pakistan 6-5 in a thrilling contest.
The tournament ended in an anti-climax for India after they topped the round-robin stages with an unbeaten record. The Indians must have come into the match high on confidence but it was the Japanese who came out attacking from the first whistle and completely dominated the opening quarter.
Japan’s dominance can be gauged from the fact that they earned as many as six penalty corners in the first six minutes, two of which resulted in goals.
The Indians came out with more purpose in the second quarter and reduced the margin in the 17th minute through Hardik’s field goal. But Japan earned another penalty stroke for an obstruction by India custodian Krishan Bahadur Pathak and this time Kirishita converted the chance. After the change of ends, Japan stunned India again when Kawabe tapped in a loose ball.
Ooka then tapped in from close range in the 41st minute before Harmanpreet converted a penalty corner. Trailing 2-5, India went all out in search of goals and with just over a minute left, India secured their fifth penalty corner. This time Hardik scored his second goal from a variation but it wasn’t enough. PTI
India beat Pak to win bronze
A misfiring India were made to toil hard before getting the better of arch-rivals Pakistan 4-3 in a pulsating third-fourth place contest to clinch the bronze medal at the Asian Champions Trophy men’s hockey tournament.
After having topped the round-robin stages, the Tokyo Olympics bronze medallists were far from impressive in their last two games, and the Manpreet Singh-led side had to play out of its skin to outwit Pakistan and finish on the podium.
South Korea emerged as the champions after beating Japan 4-2 in penalty shootout following a 3-3 stalemate at the end of the regulation 60 minutes of the title clash.
After being stunned by Japan 3-5 in the semifinal, much was expected from India against Pakistan. They did press hard and created numerous chances, including 11 penalty corners, out of which they made use of just two. India, who were the defending champions along with Pakistan in the last edition of the tournament in Muscat, will thus return with a consolation prize.
The Indian team took the lead in the very first minute through vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh before Sumit (45th), Varun Kumar (53rd) and Akashdeep Singh (57th) struck a goal each.
Pakistan’s goals were scored by Afraz (10th), Abdul Rana (33rd) and Ahmed Nadeem (57th).
It was India’s second win over Pakistan in the tournament after having beaten them 3-1 in the round-robin stages. Against Pakistan, India started the match on a bright note, pressing the opposition defence from the onset.
Unlike against Japan, India came out attacking and secured as many as four penalty corners straightaway, the last of which was converted by Harmanpreet with a powerful low flick in the very first minute. The Indians kept up the pressure with numerous raids inside the Pakistan circle but failed to create a clear-cut chance.
Pakistan grew in confidence as time passed by and drew level in the 10th minute courtesy some sloppy defending by the Indians, in particular Harmanpreet, as he failed to clear a loose ball inside the circle, and Afraz did enough to get past onrushing goalkeeper Krishan Bahadur Pathak. The Indians responded after conceding the goal and earned their fifth penalty corner soon, but Harmanpreet’s flick was saved by the Pakistani defence.
In the 14th minute, Pakistan got their first penalty corner, which was saved by Pathak.
It was a fighting contest in the second quarter as Pakistan defended in numbers to deny their neighbours. In the 22nd minute, India secured another penalty corner, but once again, Pakistan goalkeeper Amjad Ali came to his side’s rescue by denying Harmanpreet. Four minutes later, Amjad Ali was again in the thick of things when he saved Akashdeep Singh’s reverse hit from close range. India continued their attacking spree and earned their seventh penalty corner soon, but an alert Amjad Ali made twin saves to deny Jarmanpreet Singh.
At the stroke of the half-time hooter, India secured their eighth penalty corner but, as has been the case, the finishing was not up to the mark. Three minutes after the change of ends, it was Pakistan who surged ahead when Abdul Rana scored from a rebound from the team’s second penalty corner. India were lucky not to concede another, in the 43rd minute, as Abdul Rana’s attempt from Ali Shan’s pass hit the near post.
But three seconds from the third quarter, Gursahibjit Singh created a chance from nowhere and Sumit found himself at the perfect position inside the Pakistan circle to tap the ball in and draw level. With the scores tied at 2-2, the fourth and final quarter produced end-to-end hockey from both the teams. India had the better share of chances but Pakistan too didn’t give up without a fight.
Lalit Upadhayay came close to handing India the lead, only to see his deflection sail inches wide off the target from Gurinder Singh’s cross. India secured two more penalty corners soon and this time, Varun was bang on target to make it 3-2 in his side’s favour.
Pakistan responded immediately by earning two penalty corners in succession but India skipper Manpreet defended brilliantly as first rusher. Three minutes from the final hooter, Akashdeep scored with a reverse hit from a pass off Lalit, but Pakistan responded within no time when Nadeem deflected in a long ball to reduce the margin, from the next move. PTI
Azlan Shah Cup
2018: India beat Ireland to finish 5th
A resilient India defeated Ireland 4-1 to finish a disappointing fifth at the Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament. The win enabled India to avenge their 2-3 loss against the same opponents in the last round robin match.
For India Varun Kumar (5th, 32nd minutes) scored a brace, while Shilanand Lakra (28th) and Gurjant Singh (37th) found the bet once each. Ireland’s lone goal came from the sticks of Julian Dale in the 48th minute.
The Times of India, Jun 18 2016
Manuja Veerappa When people talk about India's performance in Champions Trophy over the years, one of the first names that comes to mind is Rajinder Singh (Sr). The robust defender of yesteryears, who went on to coach the Indian hockey team, left a lasting impression with a hat-trick at the 1982 Champions Trophy bronze-medal encounter against Pakistan. Speaking to TOI on Friday , Rajinder said, “A podium match is always crucial and when you play Pakistan in a match like that, it is always a high-intensity encounter. We didn't have the best of starts and were left reeling 0-3 within the first 17 minutes of the match. As a team, we always had a never-say-die attitude and regrouped to stun Pakistan. I scored a hat-trick in that match and it is a performance I rate among my best.“
In that high-intensity match, Rajinder converted three of the 12 penalty corners India earned, sounding the board in the 25th, 32nd and 46th minutes. Considered among the best penalty corner specialists of his times, the Olympian recalled playing the match with a stick made in Pakistan! “Khwaja from Grays Karachi King, manufacturers of hockey sticks, had given me three sticks in appreciation of my performance at the World Cup, and the irony of the situation was that I scored the goals with one of those sticks.“
The match wasn't without accidents and injuries. “During one of the penalty corners, my stick hit the wrist of rusher Kalimullah and he had to leave the field with a fracture,“ recollected the 57-year-old.
The Times of India, Jun 19 2016
India settle for silver amid shootout row
The Indian hockey team settled for silver, its best-ever finish in Champions Trophy, amid a raging controversy over Australia's second goal in the penalty shootout. Having held Australia 0-0 in regulation time, India lodged a protest against an infringement when Daniel Beale's attempt was allowed to go on beyond the stipulated 14 seconds. The jury took two hours to rule against India.
FIH Junior World Cup
Potchefstroom: The Indian women’s hockey team’s dream run in the FIH Junior World Cup came to a screeching halt after it suffered a 0-3 defeat to three-time champions, the Netherlands in the semifinals.
India, whose best finish in the tournament came in the 2013 edition where they finished as bronze medallists, were eying a maiden berth in the summit clash of the event. The team so far produced high quality hockey to march into the last-four round unbeaten.
But it was not to be as the Netherlands scored three field goals through Tessa Beetsma (12th minute), Luna Fokke (53rd) and Jip Dicke (54th) to emerge winners and sail into the their fourth consecutive final.
Contrary to the r esult, the Indians started on a bright note and dominated the early share of exchanges.
Mum taz Khan, India’s highest scorer in the tournament so far with six goals, came close to giving her side the lead early on but her shot from skipper Salima Tete’s pass hit the post.
The In dians pressed hard on the Dutch goal in the first quarter and secured as many as three penalty corners but they failed in final execution.
The Netherlands scored against the run of play in the 12th minute through a fantastic field effort from Beetsma, in what has been described as the best goal of the tournament as it involved as many as 20 passes. After the change of ends, the Dutch completely dominated the proceedings and the Indians were content in playing the waiting game.
Hockey World League
Poor performance with Germany, first quarter
They were brilliant against Australia, lacklustre against England but horrible in their 0-2 loss against Germany. Playing their last group match against the Olympic bronze medalists, India were overwhelmed in every sector of the game at Kalinga Stadium.
After struggling to match Germany’s speed and precision for the first 45 minutes, India almost collapsed in the last 15. Mishits, mispasses and failed traps – everything was galore as spectators began leaving the ground after the first quarter itself.
As for Germany, they couldn’t have hoped for a better end to the group stages. Mats Grambusch and captain Martin Haner scored one each as they finished as Pool B winners. Meanwhile, India — with only one point from three matches — had to settle for the last spot and may have to take on world No. 3 Belgium in the last-four stage.
From the very beginning, India had no answer to Germany’s domination. All they could do was stay back and defend and they did defend well. Amit Rohidas and Kot hajit Singh were impressive as they madeitimpossiblefor the Germans to have a clear shot at the goal. Only towards the end of the quarter India were able to make some inro ads into Germany’s D.
Hockey World League Final 2017-The sequence of events- India won Bronze
SV Sunil gave India lead in the second quarter, before Germany coming up with the equaliser in the third. Harmanpreet Singh then scored the winner through PC in the 54th minute as hosts India retained their bronze medal at the Hockey World League Final.
06:47 PM (IST), Dec 10
59' - Yellow card for Mandeep Singh. India will play with 10 men for the rest of the game
06:46 PM (IST), Dec 10
59' - Less than two minutes left in the match, India lead Germany 2-1
06:45 PM (IST), Dec 10
58' - Another great save by German goalie
06:44 PM (IST), Dec 10
57' - SK Uthappa down on the pitch, looks in pain. Medical assistance on hand though
06:42 PM (IST), Dec 10
56' - India defended well. No equaliser. India keep the slender lead, 2-1 vs Germany
06:42 PM (IST), Dec 10
56' - Germany get another PC. Is the equaliser coming this soon?
06:40 PM (IST), Dec 10
55' - No referral left for both the teams now
06:39 PM (IST), Dec 10
54' - GOAL! Germany lose the referral. Harmanpreet Singh converted their fourth PC to give hosts India 2-1 lead
06:38 PM (IST), Dec 10
54' - Harmanpreet Singh scores, but Germany taking video referral. Wait for the verdict
06:37 PM (IST), Dec 10
54' - India get one more PC - fourth of the match
06:37 PM (IST), Dec 10
53' - German goalie produces another great save to stop Rupinder Pal Singh's hit
06:36 PM (IST), Dec 10
53' - India get another PC as ball hit the German defenders' foot
06:35 PM (IST), Dec 10
53' - India get a PC. Timely one for the hosts as they look for a goal with less than eight minutes left in the match
06:34 PM (IST), Dec 10
51' - Another good save by German goalie, deflected the Sumit's hit wide
06:33 PM (IST), Dec 10
50' - India should be looking for goal with German players tiring now, as they have played the entire match without substitutions
06:29 PM (IST), Dec 10
47' - India back to 11 men
06:27 PM (IST), Dec 10
Q4 starts... India start the final quarter with 10 men as Sumit's yellow card punishment yet to get over
06:26 PM (IST), Dec 10
End of Q3 - It's 1-1 after the third quarter. Germany level the score early in the third quarter after trailing the hosts India at half-time
06:25 PM (IST), Dec 10
45' - Final few seconds of the quarter. India looking for a goal, are on the attack
06:22 PM (IST), Dec 10
42' - Yellow card for Sumit. India down to 10 men for the third time in the match
06:21 PM (IST), Dec 10
41' - Sumit fails to intercept properly and India wasted the opportunity
06:20 PM (IST), Dec 10
41' - India get their first PC of the match. Will they capitalise?
06:19 PM (IST), Dec 10
40' - Germany back to full strength now
06:18 PM (IST), Dec 10
39' - Mandeep Singh hits it just wide of goal
06:17 PM (IST), Dec 10
38' - Green card for German player, they are down to 10 men
06:14 PM (IST), Dec 10
36' - GOAL! Germany equalise. Reserve goalkeeper Mark Appel, playing as field player today, levels the score early in the third quarter. It's India 1, Germany 1
06:12 PM (IST), Dec 10
34' - Timely interception by Chinglensana to stop German attack
06:11 PM (IST), Dec 10
33'- Great save by German goalie, palms away the ball to stop Akashdeep Singh's hit
06:08 PM (IST), Dec 10
06:08 PM (IST), Dec 10
Sports minister Rajyavardhan Rathore is at the Kalinga stadium
05:59 PM (IST), Dec 10
SV Sunil: We have to control ball possession and work on counter in the second half
05:57 PM (IST), Dec 10
End of Q2 - India lead Germany 1-0 at half-time break. Scorer - SV Sunil (20')
05:54 PM (IST), Dec 10
27' - Germany get one more PC - six now. They miss to score the equaliser again
05:53 PM (IST), Dec 10
27' - Another PC for Germany, fifth of the match
05:53 PM (IST), Dec 10
27' - India back to full strength
05:51 PM (IST), Dec 10
25' - Another good attack from India, but miss to connect at the crucial time
05:47 PM (IST), Dec 10
22' - Yellow card for Kothajit Singh, India down to 10 men again. This time for atleast 5 minutes
05:46 PM (IST), Dec 10
20' - GOAL! SV Sunil scores a brilliant field goal to give India lead. It's India 1, Germany 0
05:45 PM (IST), Dec 10
20' - One more PC for Germany. Three in quick time, but India survive again
05:44 PM (IST), Dec 10
19' - Another great save by India's Karkera. It's still 0-0
05:43 PM (IST), Dec 10
19' - Great save by Karkera, but it was dangerous play. Germany get another PC
05:42 PM (IST), Dec 10
19' - Germany win the referral and they get their second PC of the match
05:41 PM (IST), Dec 10
19' - Germany taking a referral
05:39 PM (IST), Dec 10
17' - Green card for Rupinder Pal Singh, India down to 10 men
05:38 PM (IST), Dec 10
Q2 starts... As both the teams are attacking the opponent's goals continuously, we can expect goals in the first half
05:36 PM (IST), Dec 10
End of Q1 - It remains 0-0 after first 15 minutes of play. An entertaining quarter nonetheless
05:35 PM (IST), Dec 10
15' - Germany forward hit just out of the India goal mouth. It was a great move
05:34 PM (IST), Dec 10
14' - The hit was straight to the goalie. India survive
05:33 PM (IST), Dec 10
14' - First PC goes to Germany just before the end of first quarter
A hockey medal after 41 years
Indian men's bronze in Tokyo is the first hockey Olympic medal since 1980 Moscow Games.
Indian hockey at the Olympics, 1928-2021
Los Angeles, United States
London, United Kingdom
Mexico City, Mexico
Munich, West Germany
Moscow, Soviet Union
Los Angeles, United States
Seoul, South Korea
Atlanta, United States
London, United Kingdom
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The Indian hockey team at the Olympics, 1980
Baskaran, captain, recalls
It’s been 41 years, yet it still feels like yesterday. I was the captain when India won the last medal — a gold— in the Moscow Olympics. Since then, it has been four decades of drought and I have been part of it, in various capacities. I was the coach of the Indian team in 2000 in Sydney when India should have won a medal, but we slipped in our last group game against Poland.
It still rankles. But all the anguish of these 41 years seemed a thing of the past when Indian goalkeeper P R Sreejesh kept that last-minute penalty corner against Germany out in the third-place play-off in Tokyo. It’s a bronze, but it means a lot more than that. For people like us, who have been part of this journey for so long, it was a moment of redemption. I was at a television show during the match and I must admit I was nervous. My mind raced back to the Rio Games in 2016 when Sreejesh conceded goals in the closing stages in the quarter final. I was worried but Sreejesh — on Thursday — was able to hold on to his own and give us a priceless moment which the entire nation will cherish for a long time.
The final six minutes of the India Germany encounter was similar to the India-Spain gold medal encounter of 1980. Memories of that final came rushing back. There was a lot of tension in that match. We began that match well and were 2-0 up before half-time thanks to Surinder Singh Sodhi who scored both the goals. At the beginning of the second half, M K Kaushik’s strike had helped us take a comfortable 3-0 lead. But the match became tense from thereon. Spain’s skipper Juan Amat hit two goals in as many minutes to help them stay in the game.
India had a 4-2 lead in the 58th minute thanks to late Mohammad Shahid’s goal. But Spain never allowed us to breathe easy and continued to fight all the way till the end, just the way Germany did today. Amat’s goal in the 65th minute left us with only a 4-3 lead. As was the case in the India-Germany clash, Spain got two penalty corners late in the match. In the first penalty corner, I positioned myself on the right and anticipated that Amat’s shot would be at that end. I was right and managed to successfully block Amat’s fiery strike. With just seconds left on the clock, the second PC too came their way. This time, I switched to the left side and just when my stick had neutralized Amat’s shot — the final whistle was blown.
We were still a hockey powerhouse in 1980. Little did we know that it would take us so long to win another medal. The bronze show of our team is a result of a collective effort and not due to individual brilliance alone. Seniors such as Sreejesh, Manpreet Singh were on top of their games during crunch situations. I was impressed with our midfielders’ show in the bronze medal clash. The youngsters have been a revelation in the tournament. The support staff and the federation need to be lauded for grooming young guns such as Gurjant Singh, Simranjeet Singh and many others who were part of 2016 junior World Cup. The belief in the young players have certainly paid rich dividends for India. The entire hockey ecosystem must be commended for putting our country back on the Olympic podium.
There will be comparisons of this team with the ones that used to win medals as a matter of habit in Olympics. I believe that it’s just not right to compare teams from different eras. For me, what stood out about this Indian team was its never-say-die attitude. On numerous occasions in this tournament, we were behind our opponents but the fight and the fire never went away. Coach Graham Reid and the support staff have worked brilliantly on this team and the result is for all to see.
This Indian team has shown tremendous resilience in the biggest sporting event and that’s so heartening to see. Be it fitness-wise or with regards to mental ability, our team was top-notch. One has to be supremely fit to be able to withstand the pressure of featuring at the Olympics. Long national camps, Covid isolation etc. have forced players to be away from home from almost a year. Hats off to them for staying this hungry and driven for that elusive medal. The biggest question is — what does this win mean to the sport of hockey? Indian team’s performance in Tokyo will certainly amplify hockey’s profile in the country. It will drive more and more youngsters to take up this sport. There ought to be more and more scouting of young talent. Regular coaching camps for U-14 category players should also be conducted. I am hopeful that more corporates will come forward and invest in hockey. This medal-winning show will definitely go a long way in bringing us back to where we were, once upon a time.
( As told to Prasad Ramasubramanian)
( Baskaran, a top centre-half during his playing days, was India’s captain in 1980. He has also coached India a number of times)
Zafar Iqbal, In 1984, we were simply the best but..., August 29, 2017: The Times of India We were a great hockey team in the 1984 Olympics.Everybody predicted an Australia and India final for the gold medal.But destiny had other plans.
We needed to beat West Germany to play the final. Three minutes to go, the scores at 0-0, I got a chance. A flying ball came at me at almost chest-height and I had just a fraction of a second to react. I noticed a small gap between the Germany goalkeeper's leg and the post. It was gettable, practice and instinct teaches you that. Nine times out of ten, we would have threaded the ball in. But when I took the shot, it hit the post and flew out.Unbelievable! It ended in a draw and we failed to make it to the semifinals. That was a huge heart-breaking moment.
We were a very strong team in 1984, we did not lose a sin gle game barring the one against Australia.
After the draw with Germany we won the West Germany we won the next two matches to finish fifth, but failing to beat West Germany was a very sad moment for us. But that's sport for you.It teaches you a lot of things.Despite all of your skills and everything, you also need a little bit of luck. Some other day , that shot could have been a goal.Like with Sindhu, if some shots had gone her way or, if she had that fraction of luck more, the match could have gone her way .
(1984 captain, Zafar Iqbal spoke to Biswajyoti Brahma)
It was a nightmare at London in 2012 with India Finishing last at the Olympics in hockey The Bharat Chetri-led team, in which Sreejesh was the second goalkeeper to the skipper, lost six matches on the trot to land the wooden spoon.
But as a team, they laid it to rest in 2013.
The Times of India
Manpreet Singh and his men outran, outwitted, outpaced and to an extent outplayed an aggressive German team 5- 4.
The country was left emotionally stirred by its lionhearted men's hockey team players who secured a bronze that washed away four decades of pain and disappointment that the sport and its followers have endured. Thirteen years after failing to even qualify for the Games, an stood at the podium, something that had become a mythical tale of a bygone era for an entire generation. It was India's 12th Olympic hockey medal but the one that came after a gap of 41 years. It was India's fifth medal of the ongoing Games and perhaps the one which evoked the most emotional response.
Coach Harendra Singh Backs Goalkeeper Sreejesh To Make Crucial Saves In Shootout
Twice in 2018, the Indian players let themselves down when they had a chance to make amends in the shootout after the final whistle. Against Australia in the Champions Trophy final, they were beaten 5-1 and they lost out on a berth in the final at the Asian Games in Jakarta as well, going down 6-7 to Malaysia. On both occasions they failed to deliver in the shootout.
Over the past few months, the team has focused a lot during training on penalty shootout. The players have gone through the drill extensively in their final few training sessions before the World Cup gets underway here on Wednesday. India open their campaign against South Africa.
While the shootout remains a cause of concern, chief coach Harendra Singh is confident his boys will deliver.
“I expect one of India’s matches to go into shootout. I’ve very confident that Sreejesh will stop 2-3 of them. Of the five we take, I expect at least three of the players to score. But in shootout, it is anybody’s game and time is not on your side,” said the Dhronacharya awardee.
On the familiar ills of conceding last-minute goals, Harendra said, “That was in the past. According to me, you gain experience from your failures. We found the loopholes in our game during the Asian Games and rectified many of them during the Asian Champions Trophy. In the last two practice matches, although Spain and Argentina put a lot of pressure, we managed to hold the ball. That’s a lesson we have learnt and executed it in the training matches. Now the time has come for us to play the same hockey that we have displayed in the practice games.”
The newly-laid blue turf at the Kalinga stadium here isn’t the fastest surface available and is yet to completely settle. It came in for criticism from Pakistan’s assistant coach Rehan Butt on Sunday. He said, “The pitch is really heavy and it is slow. Hopefully, it will be fine after a few days.”
Harendra had a different take and admitted his team will go into the tournament with the home advantage of having played on the surface for over three weeks.
“When you go into any tournament, you have to adjust. I think the Indian team has got more time on the pitch than the others because we have practised on the surface for three weeks. So the surface should be an excuse for us. It is an advantage to have trained on this pitch because you know the surface in laid out. You know how the surface plays in certain areas,” he said.
Sultan Azlan Shah Cup
2010: Joint winners with S Korea
India share trophy with Korea
Sardar Singh Named Best Player Of the Tournament
Ipoh (Malaysia): Defending champions India and South Korea were declared joint winners of the Sultan Azlan Shah hockey tournament as the summit-clash between the two teams was called off due to rain here.
The final match was abandoned after six minutes of play as the heavy showers lashed the turf. India had lost only one match, against Malaysia, en route to final. This is the first time in the history of the tournament, which began in 1983, that there have been joint winners. Indian defender Sardar Singh was adjuged the best player of the tournament. The Indian team management, when called by the FIH tournament director Paul Richards, expressed the desire to be given the winners trophy since they had topped the seven team round-robin league with 13 points as well as having beaten the Koreans 3-2 at that stage.
However, it was decided to give the winners cup to both the teams which gave India their fifth title and the Koreans grabbed their second. India had made six appearances in the final of the tournament and ended on the victorious side on four occasions in 1985, 1991, 1995 and 2009. They had lost the title clash of the 2008 event to Argentina via golden goal.
Australia beat Malaysia 5-3, win bronze
Ipoh (Malaysia): World champions Australia scored a hard-fought 5-3 victory over Malaysia to win the bronze on Sunday. Mathew Swann (34th), Russel Ford (43rd), Kieran Govers (50th), Christopher Ciriello (54th) and captain Grant Schubert (65th) scored for Australia while Haffihafiz Hanafi (14th), Amin Mohd Rahim (48th) and Tajudin (70th) found the target for the hosts.
In another classification match, Pakistan finished fifth after pipping China 6-5 in the sudden death tiebreaker after being locked 1-1 till extra time. Malaysia took the lead in 14th minute when striker Haffihafiz Hanafi pushed past Australian goalkeeper George Bazeley after being put through by Faisal Saari.
The Aussies found the equaliser when birthday boy Mathew Swann tapped in via a reverse flick from a goalmouth melee in the 34th minute to go into the breather 1-1. Australia accelerated the pace in second half mounting raids led by captain Grant Schubert and Mark Paterson. But the Malaysian defence did well in foiling these attempts. Russel Ford put Australia ahead in the 43rd minute with a superb backhander from the top of the striking circle leaving Malaysian goalkeeper Kumar Subramaniam a mere spectator. PTI
Australia: Gold; India: silver medal
Rupinderpal Singh converted two penalty corners as India outclassed New Zealand 4-0. Rupinderpal sent identical ground dragflicks into the corner past New Zealand goalkeeper Richard Joyce's outstretched right hand in the 17th and 27th minutes. SV Sunil then scored his first goal of the tournament in the 48th minute as he captitalised on a cross from Mandeep Singh into the goalmouth, while Talwinder Singh rounded off India's scoring in the last minute.
Women's Asian Champions Trophy
India’s best performances in WACT
2010: India finished third in the inaugural edition.
2013: India finished runner-up to Japan.
2016: India won the championship.
2016/ India beats China in the finals
After Men, It's The Turn Of Women To Dominate Asia
The Indian women's hockey team lifted its maiden Asian Champions Trophy after Deepika Thakur struck in the final minute to give her team a thrilling 2-1 win over China in the final here in Nov 2016 .
Deepika slotted the rebound in from a penalty corner in the 60th minute of the game to give her team a memorable victory . Earlier, Deep Grace Ekka converted a penalty corner to take India into the lead in the 13th minute before China equalised in the 44th minute through a field goal from Zhong Mengling.
The welcome result for the Indian women's team comes days after men beat Pakistan to reclaim the Asian Champions Trophy in Kuantan, Malaysia.
Having learnt from their group stage encounter, India refused to let China take early control of the ball, clos ing them down high up the pitch, often intercepting their passes and constantly putting pressure by hunting in packs. When in possession, the Indian eves held their nerve and passed the ball around neatly to penetrate China's circle.
2009-17: INDIA’S TRYST WITH FOREIGN COACHES
Sudheendra Tripathi writes: Oltmans became the 23rd coach to get the boot in the last two decades in the revolving door that is Indian hockey . Well, the story of Indian hockey has been like this -full of surprises.
Coaches of the Indian hockey team, 2009-17.
V Narayan Swamy I TNN
First-ever foreign coach of the Indian hockey team. Took over in 2004 just before the start of the Athens Olympics. Was at the helm for a few months before tendering his resignation to join the Egyptian national team
Joined Indian hockey as a technical advisor in late 2007 before quitting after just seven months
Was appointed in May 2009 and removed after the 2010 Asiad. Brasa was replaced by Nobbs
Nobbs was appointed in June 2011 and offered a five-year contract. However, the Australian lasted just two years
INDIA UNDER chief hockey coach Michael NOBBS
June 2011: Joined as chief coach of the hockey team
Sept 2011: India won first tournament under Nobbs: 1st Asian Champions Trophy
Oct 2011: India failed to win a single match in a double-leg, three nation tournament in Australia
Nov 2011: India finished second in the Champions Challenge
Jan 2012: India won 3-1 a five-match series against SA
Feb 2012: Qualified for London Olympics, winning the qualifiers in Delhi
May 2012: Finished last in 4-nation meet in London
May 2012: Won bronze in the Azlan Shah Cup
July 2012: Finished last in the London Olympics
Dec 2012: Came fourth in the Champions Trophy
Dec 2012: Lost to Pakistan in Asian Champions Trophy final
Feb 2013: Won Hockey World League Round 2
Mar 2013: Finished fifth in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup
June 2013: Finished sixth in the World League (semis). The top three teams qualified for the World Cup
July 2013: Nobbs served termination notice. He says he resigned due to poor health.
2014: Watershed year
Dec 27 2014
A YEAR OF DEVELOPMENT FOR INDIAN HOCKEY
Indian men's hockey took giant strides towards reclaiming its long-lost numero uno position with an Asian Games gold, after a 16year drought, and several memorable victories, but the momentum was marred by an untimely and poorly handled resignation of chief coach Terry Walsh. There was a gloomy start to the year due to the men's junior team's poor World Cup performance, in December 2013, finishing sixth in the eightnation Hockey World League (HWL) Final held here.
The players visibly looked out of sorts in the first competition under coach Walsh and it was apparent they would take time to settle down under the Australian. The only positive point in the tournament was a 5-4 victory over a depleted German team.
Most of the players plied their trade in the Hockey India League (HIL), which was eventually won by Sardar Singh-led Delhi Waveriders. Though Punjab Warriors impressed most with an attractive attacking play, the Delhi team pipped them via penalty shoot-out in the summit clash. For Delhi, drag-flicker Rupinderpal Singh and young striker Akashdeep Singh played crucial roles.The Indian team later went to the Netherlands for a warm-up tour ahead of the World Cup.They floundered in most of the matches against a developmental Dutch side, which was enough to demoralise the team.
Walsh worked intensely on the fitness of the players and also sharpened their basic skills going into the World Cup, where they showed enough signs of improvement. However, results continued to elude the team. They suffered losses due to lastgasp goals in the matches against Belgium and England. A timid draw against Spain and a 0-4 drubbing against the eventual champions Australia disappointed everyone. However, they beat South Korea 3-0 to finish ninth.
With their capability in question, the team went to the Commonwealth Games with Walsh proclaiming “improvement“ as his only aim. Their most impressive show came against New Zealand in the semifinal.Despite Sardar sitting out of the match, the young team came from two goals behind to stun the Black Sticks to enter the final. Australia put up another creditable show to beat India in the two teams' second consecutive CWG summit clash.
Neil Hawgood-coached women's team finished fifth in the tournament.The Ritu Rani-led team improved under the Australian's guidance but couldn't bridge the gap between the top teams, which resulted in a mutual separation with Hawgood at the year-end.
Further disappointments were in store for Indian hockey as no player was selected for the Arjuna Award, prompting a prolonged war of words between Hockey India (HI) president Narinder Batra and the Sports Authority of India (SAI).
However, the Indian men's team continued its upward journey and Walsh's firm focus on fitness and ball control started to bring the desired results.
They got a long-awaited result at the Asian Games in Incheon, withstanding the pressure exerted by hosts South Korea in the semifinal before quelling Pakistan's challenge in the final to bag the first Asiad gold since 1996.
The success also made them the first team to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The Indian women's team also featured on the podium, finishing third.
Building on the Incheon success, the team prevailed 3-1 over a weakened Australia in a rare series triumph Down Under.
After being thrashed severely in the first match, the team turned the tables, which also gave a glimpse of their mental resoluteness. Goalkeeper P.R.Sreejesh's improvement and consistency helped India overcome many challenges, making him the most stand-out player of the season.
Meanwhile, the Indian Under-21 team also successfully defended the Sultan of Johor Cup title which also made the year more special and memorable for hockey fans.
But the mood was soured by the resignation of Walsh, who demanded an improved contract that would give him better functional autonomy in team's decision-making, most notably in selecting the players.
Despite valiant efforts by Sports Minister Sarabananda Sonowal and the SAI, Walsh didn't agree to continue. He was also not happy with Batra rekindling his alleged financial irregularities during his tenure with US Hockey. ThIs departed India's fourth foreign coach.
The Indian team did try to get over from the controversy but their Champions Trophy performance was inconsistent.
HIL auction 2015
See graphic, 'HIL auction 2015, top Indian and foreign buys'
2015: Junior Men's Asia Cup
Harmanpreet Hat-Trick helps Indian colts lift Jr Men's Asia Cup
Rising to the occasion with their traditional hockey play and Harmanpreet Singh's hattrick, India beat Pakistan 6-2 to clinch the 8th Junior Men's Asia Cup at the Wisma Belia Stadium
2015: Lose in World League Finals
The Times of India, Dec 01 2015
Dutch debacle for India at HWL Finals
They promised a lot but delivered little when Sardar Singh-led team India slumped to a 1-3 defeat at the hands of The Netherlands in Group B of the World League Finals here on Monday . Registering their second loss of the tournament, RoelantOltmans' boys looked listless and missed numerous opportunities.
2015: Bronze in the World League
The Times of India, Dec 07 2015
Sreejesh hands India bronze
It was an evening to remember for hockey lovers across the country as India turned on the heat on Netherlands to win bronze in the World League Finals at the SardarVallabhbhai Patel International stadium. Thirty-three years after they clinched bronze in the Champions Trophy , India won a 15-goal thriller and sealed the third place with a 8-7 scoreline via shoot-out as both teams remained tied on 5-5 after regulation time. And, as has been the case in recent years, goalkeeper PR Sreejesh was in the thick of action during the nerve wracking shoot-out, bringing about three invaluable saves.
While BirendraLakra and skipper Sardar Singh scored for the hosts, Billy Bakker and Seve van Ass netted for the Dutch before Manpreet Singh was fouled by goalkeeper PirminBlaak. Rupinder Pal Singh stepped up to convert from the spot to send the stadium into a frenzy .
India, though, struggled to call the shots in the early stages of the game and the Dutch regularly caught them off guard.
Men end year in 6th place; women 10th (International Hockey Federation)
The Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams remained static at sixth and 10th positions respectively in the rankings released by the International Hockey Federation (FIH). The Indian men’s team was at the sixth spot since the beginning of 2017 and maintained its position throughout 2017.
India’s third place finish at the recentlyconcluded Men’s Hockey World League (HWL) Final though helped them reduce the gap with fifth place Germany significantly, they failed to topple them. India now have 1566 points, while Germany have 1680.
Australian men’s team reclaimed the top position from Argentina after posting a 2-1 win over the same opponents in the title clash of the HWL Final. Belgium and the Netherlands remained unchanged at third and fourth places respectively.
The women’s team, who started the year at the 12th spot, jumped up two places to 10th. Their Asia Cup win last month helped them gain two positions, leapfrogging Spain and Japan. The Netherlands maintained their position at the top, while England and Argentina retained second and third places respectively.
The best players/ 2017
Indian team’s leading goal-scorer this year with 18. India’s top scorer at the Asia Cup with seven, a key force in the team clinching the trophy. Joint topscorer at the Hockey World League semi-finals in London with six. Scored India’s second goal doing regular time and then the winning shot during penalty shootouts as World No 3 Belgium were knocked out of the HWL Final quarters in Bhubaneshwar. In the bronze-medal game, scored a goal as India beat Germany 2-1. Scored all three goals of India’s 3-0 win over New Zealand during the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. Scored a brace to help beat Belgium 3-2 during the Three Nations Invitational Tournament in Dusseldorf. Scored the equaliser during India’s 4-3 win against Austria during the team’s tour of Europe, then thundered in a second goal to put India ahead.
Was a consistent factor in India’s success both as forward and defender. During the Asia Cup triumph, Gurjant salvaged a 1-1 draw against South Korea with a last minute equaliser. Helped India beat Pakistan 4-0 to reach the final of the Asia Cup. Scored India’s opening goal of their quarter-final win over World No 3 Belgium during the Hockey World League Final in Bhubaneshwar. During the tour of Europe, scored a goal to help India beat World No 4 Netherlands 2-1 and win the series. Scored give goals in Punjab’s bronze-medal finish at the senior nationals.
India’s leading goal-scorer of the year with 19. Most successful goal-scorer during India’s Asia Cup title triumph with eight. Converted seven penalty corners in the Asia Cup, including hattrick in the quarter-final against Kazakhstan. In the semi-final versus defending champions Japan, Gurjit scored two goals. Scored the most goals (4) during India’s 5-0 sweep of Belarus.
Led the Indian hockey team to the Asia Cup title in Bangladesh, bringing the trophy home after 10 years. Then captained them to bronze at the HWL Final in Bhubaneshwar. Also led India to 3-2 record on their tour of Europe, beating higher-ranked Netherlands twice in four games to bounce back from two losses to Belgium. Scored two goals in India’s 4-3 win over Netherlands.
Captained India to the Women’s Asia Cup title, the first time the team won it since 2004. In the penalty shootout in the final, scored two goals including the winning shot. Scored two goals during the 10-0 win over Singapore and one against China during the league phase. The second most successful goal-scorAt Cheadle haveer for India this year with 12.
Starring role in India’s title triumph at the Women’s Asia Cup, the first time the team won it since 2004. Adjudged Goalkeeper of the Tournament after allowing just five goals. In the final, pulled off a brilliant save with the scores locked at 4-4 to help India beat China and secure 2018 World Cup berth. Kept clean sheets against Singapore and Malaysia.
2018: ‘Foreign coaches force Sardar Singh to retire’
Former Indian hockey captain Sardar Singh made a startling revelation, blaming India’s high-performance director David Ian John and former Indian men’s hockey team’s chief coach Marijne Sjoerd – who is presently the women’s team head – for creating circumstances which forced him to announce his early retirement.
Giving inside details of what transpired behind closed doors in the months leading up to his retirement for the very first time since calling it quits in September this year, Sardar informed that both John and Sjoerd resorted to a lot of chopping and changing in the team, rotating and even dropping the senior players, including him, at their own free will.
Sardar said that things changed drastically for him after the exit of Roelant Oltmans despite the midfielder from Haryana being the fittest of the lot. Giving one such instance, Sardar revealed, “During last year’s (October) Asia Cup in Dhaka, on the day of our match against Pakistan (in the Super Four which India won 4-0), John called me to his hotel room in the morning and told me I was playing individualistic hockey and not creating enough chances for the team. A coach can’t do that to a player telling him just hours before an important match that you are not playing well. There’s a time and place for such talks, may be after the match.”
The world knows, as Sardar chose to tell them, that it was entirely his decision to quit international hockey after a disappointing outing at the Asiad. But Sardar, who has 314 international caps for India and retired after Jakarta Asian Games where India settled for bronze after losing to Malaysia in a penalty shootout in the semifinals, revealed that John and Sjoerd started neglecting him on the pretext of picking him for the next big tournament. That big occasion rarely came after the Asia Cup.
Sardar was dropped for the Hockey World League Final in Bhubaneswar in December. Later, he was selected for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup as a captain, but that team largely consisted of junior players with no senior around. Then again, he was dropped for the Gold Coast CWG. Finally, after the Asiad in September, he wasn’t selected for the 25-member core group for the Asian Champions Trophy, which forced Sardar to retire.
“After Oltmans, several things changed for me and the seniors with John and Sjoerd around. I was missing important tournaments. I hoped to get back into the team someday, but on the pretext that I was not fit, they kept dropping me. Honestly, you can’t play under such circumstances.
“I am still fit to play the upcoming World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. My fitness is still good. I scored the highest on the Yo-Yo test parameter. The same John had once told me in Bengaluru that you re the fittest player around. My target is to keep myself fit for next two years to play in different leagues globally,” Sardar said with a sense of despondency and hurt.
2018: Four Nations: Belgium beats India in final
Tauranga (New Zealand): India went down fighting to Belgium 1-2 in a thrilling final match of the first leg of the Four Nations Invitational tournament at the Blake Park here. Tom Boon (4th minute) and Sebastien Dockier (36th) found the target for Belgium while Mandeep Singh (19th) was India's lone goal scorer.
Belgium were quick to get off the block as they won a penalty corner within three minutes of the game but Loick Luypaert's drag flick was superbly rendered ineffective by India's first runner Chinglensana Kangujam.
Almost immediately, India had a great opportunity to score as a dribbling Dilpreet Singh made a beautiful turn at the top of the circle to dodge a Belgian defender.
2018: India Loses Second Straight Champions Trophy Final
Lose Second Straight CT Final
India’s quest for their maiden Champions Trophy hockey title remained unaccomplished as they lost 1-3 to defending champions Australia via penalty shoot-off in the summit clash of the 37th and final edition of the prestigious tournament.
India came agonisingly close to securing their maiden Champions Trophy triumph, only to be denied by a valiant show by Australia goalkeeper Tyler Lovell. The match went into the shoot-off after both the teams were locked at 1-1 in regulation time.
But the Kookaburra custodian produced a stellar show in the shoot-off, denying Sardar Singh, Harmanpreet Singh and Lalit Upadhayay while Manpreet Singh was the only scorer for India. Australia, on the other hand, converted their first two efforts in the shoot-off through Aran Zalewski and Daniel Beale before Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh denied Matthew Swann and Tom Craig.
But Jeremy Edwards converted the last try to hand Australia their record 15th Champions Trophy title.
But the Indians can take heart from the fact that they matched the Australians’ game in the entire 60 minutes, even dominated the proceedings for a better part of the game but the strikers failed to utilise the numerous chances in front of an agile Lovell. It was Australia who took the lead in the 24th minute through Blake Govers who converted their only penalty corner.
But it was India who had better chances initially in the form of two back-to-back penalty corners inside the first 10 minutes but they wasted both. The Indians continued their attacking instinct and in the 13th minute, young Dilpreet Singh’s hit was blocked by an Australian defender before it fell on the path of SV Sunil who failed to control the ball.
India secured their third penalty corner in the 18th minute but Harmanpreet’s flick was blocked by the Australian defence as another opportunity went abegging.
In the 24th minute, Sreejesh pulled off a brilliant save to deny Aaron Kleinschmidt but from the resultant move Australia secured their only short corner and Govers made no mistake to give his side the lead.
Just a minute before half time, Sreejesh evicted a fine save from Zaleski’s effort as Australia went into the breather leading by a solitary goal.
Three minutes into the third quarter, India earned another penalty corner but it also failed to yield the desired result. Four minutes later, Mandeep Singh struck the post from close range.
Manpreet was then denied by Lovell from close range after being fed by Harmanpreet’s pass. But from the resultant move Vivek scored after getting a deflection from Manpreet as India levelled the score.
2018: India wins Test series vs. New Zealand 3-0
Indian defender Surender Singh has over 70 appearances in national colours and has been a part of many Indian wins in recent years.
In the final match of India’s three-match Test series against New Zealand, he scored his maiden international goal, a field goal.
For the record, India completed a 3-0 whitewash as they scored a comprehensive 4-0 victory at the SAI, South Centre.
The team think-tank has been trying out variations throughout the series. On Sunday, Surender was the livewire of the midfield while Harmanpreet Singh fell back to defend for the better part of the contest.
Rupinder Pal Singh put the home team ahead as he converted a perfect pass from Sardar Singh to flick the ball low past New Zealand goalkeeper George Enersen in the eighth minute. Seven minutes later, as India continued their penetrations, Rupinder moved in to the top of the striking circle and found an unmarked Surender, who didn’t waste time in finding the gap between the goalpost and the goalkeeper.
Details: India wins NZ series 3-1
The Indian men's hockey team registered its second successive victory against New Zealand, beating the visitors 3-1 to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match Test series at the Sports Authority of India's Bengaluru Campus on Saturday.
India began the opening quarter with a structured attack. It was striker SV Sunil who took the team's first potential shot on goal in the opening minute but was well defended by New Zealand goalkeeper Richard Joyce.
India dominated the quarter as the team's attack won two PC opportunities, however, the home team could not convert and the two teams ended the first quarter in a stalemate.
The second quarter saw India showcase an improvised attack. They won three back-to-back PCs in the 18th minute and Rupinder Pal Singh was third-time lucky after two of his previous flicks were blocked by New Zealand's first rusher.
It was Manpreet Singh who made a perfect injection that was powerfully picked up by Rupinder to fire it past Joyce, fetching India their first breakthrough. Almost a minute later, the experienced forward Sunil fetched India another PC, however, this time the variation did not work.
In the 24th minute, Stephen Jenness caught the Indian defence off guard when he pierced through the striking circle, beating PR Sreejesh, who had run up to block him and found an open goal to put the ball into the post for an equaliser.
India retorted back with a splendid field goal in the 27th minute through striker Sunil, who worked in tandem with Simranjeet Singh. This brilliant goal won back India their lead and ended the second quarter with the scoreboard reading 2-1 in favour of the hosts.
New Zealand stitched together an improvised defence in the third quarter but their attack remained jaded.
India upped the ante in the final quarter as they made enthralling forays into the striking circle. One such attempt, Sunil made a brilliant pass from the right flank to Mandeep Singh, who swiftly deflected into the post, taking India's lead to 3-1 in the 56th minute. The defence held strong to keep up the lead till the end.
August: Indian teams rise up one rank each
An impressive silvermedal finish at the Champions Trophy has helped the Indian men’s hockey team jump one spot to fifth in the latest FIH rankings chart released on Tuesday. India had lost to Australia via penalty shootout in the summit clash of the Champions Trophy after the two sides were locked 1-1 in regulation time in the Netherlands last month.
In the women’s rankings also, the Indian team gained one spot to rise to ninth. The team had lost to eventual runners-up Ireland in the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup via penalty shootout on August 2. The Indian women’s team is the ranked highest in Asia, ahead of the likes of Korea (10th), China (11th) and Japan (14th).
Ram out, Prajnesh advances
Pune: Ramkumar Ramanathan crashed out in the first round of the $150,00 ATP Challlenger in Jinan, China, on Tuesday. Ramkumar, ranked a career-best 111 in the world, succumbed to Finland’s Harri Heliovaara 4-6, 4-6 in just over an hour in the hard court event. The 23-year-old served 15 aces and eight doublefaults but what proved crucial was the low conversion rate of second-serve points, 47 percent to the Finn’s 71 percent.
2018: Hero Asian Champions Trophy
India beat Asiad champs Japan 9-0
The Indian men’s hockey team put up a clinical performance against Japan, demolishing the Asiad gold-medallists 9-0 for its third win in as many matches at the Hero Asian Champions Trophy.
As many as six Indian players made entries on the score-sheet on Sunday night in a dominating show that reaffirmed their supremacy in Asia and showed that the below-par Asian Games performance was an aberration. With their third successive win, India lead the six-team event's league standings with a maximum nine points, followed by Malaysia on six points from two games.
Impressed with India's skills and determination, Japan coach Siegfried Aikman acknowledged that the Harendra Singh-coached side will beat his team on most occasions. “India will probably beat us nine times out of 10 encounters. This was unfortunately not a day for us,” said Aikman, whose team is missing six players from the side that won Japan's first Asian Games men's title.
Strikers Lalit Upadhyay and Mandeep Singh scored two goals each, while drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh converted a penalty stroke and a penalty corner to lead the goalfest. Upadhyay opened the Indian scoring in the fourth minute with a diving deflection and again got into the action in the 45th minute for his double, while Harmanpreet converted a penalty stroke in the 17th minute and then sounded the board with a low penalty corner shot in the 21st minute.
As Japan's defence was swept away by the Indian raids, Mandeep Singh capitalised on two openings in the last quarter -- in the 49th and 57th minute. Japan's goalkeeper Takashi Yoshikawa was injured in the eighth minute when he blocked Harmanpreet's penalty corner shot, only for the ball to rebound to Gurjant, who flicked it in. Thereafter, reserve Yusuke Takano had to bear the brunt of the Indian attack. Indian coach Harendra Singh was pleased by his team's ruthless performance.
“The way we played was good. We played to a plan and did not allow Japan's team to play in a certain manner,” said Harendra.
The game also saw a goal each from Akashdeep Singh (36th) and Sumit (42nd).
On the points table, Pakistan have three points from two matches, while Japan are on three points in three games. South Korea and Oman have lost both their matches.
Aikman said, “We tried our level best, but they were very strong. India sparkled with their speed and agility.”
India held to goalless draw by Malaysia
The Indian men’s hockey team were held to a goalless draw by Malaysia in the fast-paced encounter of the ongoing Asian Champions Trophy at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex.
Both India and Asian Games silver-medallists Malaysia now have 10 points each from four outings in the preliminary round-robin league, with India topping the standings on basis of a superior goal difference.
The Indian team got off to a nervy start as they wasted several scoring opportunities early in the match. They had a spate of chances early in the contest, only for Hardik Singh to fritter away a scoring opportunity, Harmanpreet Singh’s penalty corner flick being blocked by the Malaysian goalkeeper and Mandeep Singh failing to get a touch on long diagonal balls twice in the first quarter.
Malaysia created one opening on a counter-attack but mostly fell back to defend their goal against the Indian strikers.
In the second half, the Indian strikers were not allowed space to enter the circle until the closing stages when they forced two penalty corners but could not produce a goal-bearing shot. This was a period when Malaysia were down to 10 players as Tengku Tajuddin was shown the yellow card for a deliberate foul on Indian captain Manpreet Singh.
Later, Nilakanta Sharma missed the target by inches in one of the combined Indian raids. Indian chief coach Harendra Singh rued the missed chances, saying, “I am not happy. We cannot miss chances like this in international hockey.”
Malaysian coach Roelant Oltmans, on the other hand, said that his team faced a tough time when they were down to 10 players. “We did really well in how we defended, but I am slightly disappointed with what we did when in possession of the ball. We could have done a lot more. We could have created opportunities for ourselves,” said Oltmans, who took charge of the Malaysian team after the Asian Games that ended last month. “We came under some pressure in the last phase after the yellow card,” he added.
For three Asian teams – India, Pakistan and Malaysia – this event provides the last competitive games ahead of next month’s World Cup in Bhubaneswar in India.
Harmanpreet hat-trick helps India beat Korea
Har manpreet Singh scored a hat-trick to hand defending champions India a 4-1 victory over South Korea and end their round robin campaign on an unbeaten note at the Hero Asian Champions Trophy here. Harmanpreet opened the scoring for India in the fifth minute with a firm drag-flick and returned to score two more goals with rasping dragflicks in the 47th and 59th minutes to become the tournament's third player to score a treble.
India's Dilpreet Singh and Pakistan's Aleem Bilal are the other players to have registered hat-tricks in the tournament so far. Gurjant Singh scored the other goal for India in the 10th minute.
For South Korea, Lee Seungil scored a field goal in the 20th minute. India finished on top of the standings with 13 points from five outings with a goal difference of 25. Malaysia is the second spot on 10 points from four matches, Pakistan on seven from four outings and Japan on four points in four games.
India, Malaysia, Pakistan and Asian Games gold medallist Japan are already through to the semi-finals but the league standings will be finalised only after Malaysia, Pakistan and Japan play their last preliminary round matches Thursday.
After a goalless draw against Malaysia on Tuesday, the Indians started on an attacking note against the South Koreans from the opening whistle.
India maintained possession in the opening few minutes and earned their first penalty corner in the fifth minute which was fiercely struck in the top right cor ner by Harmanpreet.
2018: Sultan of Johor Cup
India reaches final
Already through to the final, the Indian junior men’s hockey team on Friday suffered its first defeat at the eighth Sultan of Johor Cup, losing 2-3 against Great Britain in its last round robin match here. With four consecutive wins earlier in the tournament, India had already entered the summit clash ahead of Friday’s clash with 12 points.
Great Britain are placed second in the points table with 10 points from five games out of which they won three. The Indian juniors led by Mandeep Mor made a strong start making potential forays into the rival’s striking circle.
The tactic fetched the Indians back-toback penalty corners in the fifth minute and Vishnukant Singh converted the second attempt with a good variation. India’s lead was shortlived as last year’s runner-up side Great Britain equalised in the next minute, courtesy a brilliant field goal from Cameron Golden.
In the second quarter too, India continued to dominate stretching Great Britain's defence. While one penalty corner went wasted, the second set piece was converted by Shilanand Lakra in the 20th minute to hand India a 2-1 lead.
India conceded back-to-back penalty corners in the third quarter and Great Britain capitalised on the opportunity by scoring in the 39th minute through Stuart Rushmere.
Great Britain took the lead for the first time in the match in the 51st minute through another penalty corner which was converted by captain Edward Way. They maiinted the lead till the final whistle to emerge winners.
India lose 2-3 to Britain in final, win silver
India suffered a heart-breaking 2-3 loss to Great Britain to settle for the silver at the eighth Sultan of Johor Cup U-18 hockey tournament.
The silver, however, enabled India to better its last year’s bronze medal finish here. Great Britain, who finished runners-up last year, secured their second title by virtue of Saturday’s win.
The summit clash was a repeat of round robin match between the two sides, where Great Britain got the better of India by identical margin. India made a strong start to the final earning an early penalty corner opportunity and they capitalised on the chance when Vishnukant Singh scored from a rebound in the fourth minute.
India’s enjoyed the lead for just three minutes as Great Britain drew level in the seventh minute through Daniel West. Great Britain upped the ante in the third quarter and scored two crucial goals in the 39th & 42nd minute.
Akashdeep Named Tournament’s Best Player
India’s Akashdeep Singh was adjudged player of the tournament but the team had to share the Asian Champions Trophy with Pakistan after the much-anticipated summit clash was abandoned due to heavy downpour here. Heavy rain delayed the start of the final on late Sunday night and even though the skies relented later, the damage had already been done by then.
The turf was completely waterlogged because of thunderstorm and heavy showers and after discussion with both the coaches of India and Pakistan, the tournament director decided to call off the match and declare both the teams as joint winners.
India won the toss of coin and earned the right to take home the trophy of the biennial tournament for the first year. It will be given to Pakistan for the next year.
Since the Indians took home the trophy, the tournament gold medals were presented to the Pakistani players. Asian Hockey Federation Chief Executive Dato Tayyab Ikram said gold medals will soon be sent for the Indian players.
Akashdeep was adjudged Player of the Tournament while P R Sreejesh was declared best goalkeeper. Pakistan’s Abu Bakkar Mahmood was named Emerging Player of the Tournament while Malaysia’s Faisal Saari emerged highest scorer.
India remained unbeaten in the tournament having topped the round robin stages with 13 points, courtesy four wins and a draw out of their five games. Pakistan ended the round robin stages on the second spot with 10 points.
India had earlier defeated Pakistan 3-1 in the round robin stage. Malaysia claimed the bronze medal by prevailing 3-2 in the penalty shootout against Japan after the two teams were tied 2-2 in regulation period. India and Pakistan had won the title twice each before the current edition. India had come into the event as defending champions. It was India and Pakistan’s last outing ahead of the Odisha World Cup.
Azlan Shah Cup
India beat Malaysia, jump to second spot
India struck four times after a goalless first quarter to tame hosts Malaysia 4-2, climbing to the second spot in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament, here on Tuesday. Sumit Kumar (17th min), Sumit Kumar junior (27th min), drag flicker Varun Kumar (36 min) and Mandeep Singh (58th min) found the net for India.
Razie Rahim (27th min) and Firhan Ashari (57th min) scored for the hosts.
With two wins and a draw, India moved up to the second position in the table with seven points behind Korea (7). India had beaten Japan 2-0 in the first match before playing a 1-1 draw against Korea.
India beat Canada 7-3, enter final
Striker Mandeep Singh scored a brilliant hattrick as India outplayed Canada 7-3 to book a summit clash berth against Korea in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament. Korea beat hosts Malaysia 2-1 in another match of the day to set up a summit clash against India.
The 24-year-old Mandeep fired in three quick field goals (20th, 27th and 29th minutes), all of them coming in the second quarter, after Varun Kumar had given India the lead in the 12th minute of the highscoring match. At the half time, India were 4-0 up in the match before Canada reduced the margin through a strike from Mark Pearson in the 35th minute.
Amit Rohidas (39th), Vivek Prasad (55th) and Nilakanta Sharma (58th) struck later to take the game beyond the reach of the Canadians who scored two late goals through Fin Boothroyd (50th) and James Wallace (57th). India and Korea, the two unbeaten sides in the tournament, now have 10 points each from four matches, with identical three wins and a draw.
India beat Poland 10-0
Striker Mandeep Singh continued his rich form and scored a brace to help India thrash minnows Poland 10-0 in their last league match of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament here Friday. Already assured of a place in Saturday’s summit clash against Korea, the Indians scored goals almost at will, leaving the Polish players in daze.
Besides Mandeep (50th, 51st minutes), dragflciker Varun Kumar (18th, 25th) also struck twice while Vivek Sagar Prasad (1st), Sumit Kumar (7th), Surender Kumar (19th), Simranjeet Singh (29th), Nilankanta Sharma (36th) and Amit Rohitdas (55th) were the other goal-scorers for India. Five-time champions India, thus, maintained their unbeaten streak in the tournament, collecting 13 points from five league matches with the help of four wins and a draw.
With two strikes on Friday, Mandeep became the highest goal-scorer in the tournament with a total of seven goals while Varun took his personal tally to five goals so far.
It was expected to be a one-sided contest and it turned out to be so as India raced to a 2-0 lead by the seventh minute through Vivek and Sumit’s goals.
The second quarter saw India strengthen their attack as they made space inside the striking circle. In good form, Sumit earned a penalty corner for India which was perfectly converted by Varun. PTI
India lose final
South Korea stunned favourites India 4-2 in the shoot-out to lift the Azlan Shah Cup hockey title after the fivetime champions conceded an equaliser in the final quarter of the summit clash here Saturday. Going into the title clash, world no. 5 India were clear favourites to lift their sixth Azlan Shah title against the 17th ranked Koreans.
And the Indians started in the right earnest, taking the lead early through Simranjeet Singh’s field strike in the ninth minute. The Koreans, thereafter, kept the Indian forward line under tight vigil, while also pressing hard in search of the equaliser.
Korea’s efforts finally paid dividend in the 47th minute when they were awarded a penalty stroke. The Indians went for the video referral but the penalty decision stayed and Jang Jong Hyun made no mistake in drawing parity for his side. Two minutes from the hooter, India earned a penalty corner but to no avail as the match went into shoot-out.
In the shoot-out, the Indians missed their first, fourth and fifth attempts and converted just two, while the Koreans just missed their third strike to win the thrilling contest 4-2 and lift the crown for the third time in the history of the invitational tournament.
For India, Mandeep Singh, Sumit Kumar Junior and Sumit missed from the one-on-one penalty shootout situation, while experienced Birendra Lakra and Varun Kumar, converted their chances. Defending the goal in the shoot-out for India was young Kishan B Pathak in place of experienced P R Sreejesh.
Hosts Malaysia finished third after beating Canada 4-2 in the third-fourth place classification match. PTI
Belgium tour: India won all 5 matches
India hammer world champs Belgium 5-1 to wrap up tour
India’s men’s hockey team produced an attacking masterclass to outclass reigning World and European Champions Belgium 5-1 in the fifth and final match and maintain a hundred per cent record in their Tour of Belgium. World No. 5 India won all five matches during the Tour, beating Belgium 2-0 in the opening match, and registering 6-1 and 5-1 wins over Spain in the next two games, before finishing off their Tour with two more wins (2-1 and 5-1).
In the fifth match on Thursday, Simranjeet Singh (7th), Lalit Kumar Upadhyay (35th), Vivek Sagar Prasad (36th), Harmanpreet Singh (42nd) and Ramandeep Singh (43rd) -- all scored a goal each to earn a scintillating victory for the Indian team.
Brimming with confidence after an invincible run, India started the match on the frontfoot and produced a stunning move in the 7th minute to take the lead through forward Simranjeet. Belgium did try to force a comeback but their Penalty Corner was saved by Krishan B Pathak in the 9th minute, helping India to maintain their one-goal advantage at the first break. The second quarter saw World No. 2 Belgium win back-to-back Penalty Corners in the 16th minute, but India’s Pathak made sure that their lead stayed intact. PTI
FIH Men’s Series
The journey to the semi-finals
Hosts India battle Japan, inconsistency in semis
When India take on Asian Games gold medallists Japan in the semifinals of the FIH Men’s Series Final here on Friday, a key issue that they will have to address is consistency. It is in this area they have failed to master over the past few years.
The scorelines of 10-0, 3-1 and 10-0 against Russia, Poland and Uzbekistan respectively in the group stage indicate a free ride to the knock-out match but opponents have exposed chinks in the home team’s armour. What is worrying is the fact the loopholes have been laid bare against teams who are all ranked much lower than India.
The forward line, barring Akashdeep Singh, have come good but only in patches, and will have to step up. They have to get the basics right like trapping the ball and positioning themselves while receiving the passes. The penalty corner conversion too has been inconsistent. In the first two matches, India converted six goals off 14 penalty corners, but were successful in finding the mark in just four of the 12 against Uzbekistan. This was largely because of the lack of variation.
Another cause of concern for India’s new coach Graham Reid is penalty shootouts. On the previous two occasions India’s matches have gone into shootouts, the have lost. The match will also pose a challenge to the goalkeepers’ PR Sreejesh and Krishan Pathak, who have been reduced to being spectators in lop-sided encounters.
Given their rankings and reputations, India and Japan were expected to meet in the final. But Japan found a stumbling block in the form of USA, who held them to a draw, and earned a direct place into the semifinals as pool toppers. Japan took the crossovers route to the last four.
That said, in terms of relevance of the result, the pressure will be on India to win the match, as the finalists of this tournament make it to the 2020 Olympics qualifiers later this year. On that count, the Olympics hosts have little to worry as they have sealed their berth as continental champions.
Although India start firm favourites, given Japan’s swift game, a good contest is on the cards.
India beat Japan 7-2, enter final
On a sultry Friday evening, Japan stunned India into silence by forging ahead within the first two minutes of play. But the hosts bounced back after the stumble to register a comfortable 7-2 win and storm into the title round of the FIH Men’s Series Final at the Kalinga stadium here. Seasoned striker Ramandeep Singh, who hadn’t put his name on the scoresheet in the tournament thus far, came to the party when it mattered the most and led the Indian attack by scoring two goals. In the final, Manpreet Singh and his men will take on South Africa, who sneaked past USA with a lastminute goal at 2-1. Both the finalists made the Olympic qualifiers to be held later this year.
With the temperature continuing to soar here, Japan upped the heat when Kenji Kitazato latched on to a pass from the dependable Tanaka Kenta, who caught the Indian backline off guard to seize a 1-0 advantage.
Although India dominated much of the first quarter, they kept losing the ball inside the striking circle. Two minutes after the Japanese stuck, India had a chance to break even when Hardik Singh deftly set it up for Gursahibjit Singh, who hit wide.
However, Harmanpreet Singh, making his 100th international appearance at a venue where he made his debut, struck the equaliser just before the end of the first quarter, off a penalty corner with the ball brushing past goalkeeper Yusuke Takano’s right glove.
JAPAN LOSE THE PLOT
After they conceded back-to-back penalty corners twice in the first quarter, Japan got swept away by the heat of the moment when they felt the decisions had gone against them. The fact that Yoshiki Kirishita and skipper Manabu Yamashita were stretchered out after being hit did not help their cause either. The players also picked up two yellow and an equal number of green cards.
Their coach Siegfried Aikman later conceded, “We were unlucky. We conceded penalty corners which in our opinion were not PCs. We fought back, they scored again. After that we lost our head, discipline. Mentally you have to deal with disappointment. We could have handled it well. But there was some frustration.”
Japan overcame the frustration briefly in the 20th minute with some nimble footwork and fine stickwork which saw them restore parity after Varun Kumar had put India ahead 2-1 six minutes earlier.
It all started with Kazuma Murata finding Koji Yamasaki even as Watanabe aligned next to goalkeeper PR Sreejesh. The ball was angled well for Kota Watanabe to find target.
India regrouped in the latter half of the match and slowed down the pace a little and that frustrated the Japanese more and they soon turned error-prone. For India, one of the biggest takeaways were the goals by Ramandeep. In the 23rd minute, after a goalmouth melee, a Japanese defender cleared the ball only for Ramandeep to control the ball on top of the circle before rifling it in.
Results: Semifinals: India 7 (Harmanpreet Singh 7, Varun Kumar 14, Ramandeep Singh 23, 37, Hardik Singh 25, Gursahibjit Singh 43, Vivek Prasad 47) bt Japan 2 (Kenji Kitazato 2, Kota Watanabe 20). South Africa 2 (Austin Smith 42, Nicholas Spooner 60) bt USA 1 (Aki Kaeppeler 15).
India beat South Africa 5-1 in the final
A month after cyclone Fani ravaged Odisha, the state did a commendable job of hosting the FIH Men’s Series finals here. On Saturday, the Indian team paid a fitting tribute to the spirit of the state and people who turned out in large numbers to support them in the final at the Kalinga stadium, as they won the competition beating South Africa 5-1 in the final.
For India, Varun Kumar and Harmanpreet Singh struck a twice each while Vivek Sagar Prasad added the finishing touches to the home side’s scoresheet.
As finalists, both teams had made the cut for the Olympic qualifiers before the start of the match, but had crucial ranking points at stake.
India met with early success as Varun Kumar, struck the left bottom of the post off a penalty corner in the second minute. After the early setback, the South African defenders were all over the place, but Indian strikers Mandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh and Gursahibjit Singh were guilty of holding on to the ball for longer than necessary and they took time to join the attacks, thus frittering away chances.
Harmanpreet doubled the lead in the 11th minute as he read the opposition goalkeeper right. Rassie Pieterse anticipated the ball to go low and went down while Harmanpreet flicked it high. With the defenders having nothing much to do, India played full-press with Surender Singh and Birendra Lakra, playing upfront and doing a good job of attacking from the right flank.
While India got off to a rousing start, the second quarter was a rather slow affair. In the duration, Gurjant Singh, who replaced Sumit, who fractured his right hand during the semifinals against Japan on Friday, picked up a green card. It was India’s first this tournament. Harmanpreet, who was adjudged the man of the match, added the third goal of the match when South Africa were penalised with a penalty stroke for stick check. Prasad, who walked away with the trophy for the junior player of the tournament, added his name to the scoresheet when Mandeep’s baseline pass was collected by Simranjeet inside the striking circle and relaid to Vivek, who effected a backhand tap into the goal. Varun then added his second goal off a penalty corner in the 50th minute. South Africa, who were spectators to India’s festivity, belatedly joined the party when they earned the first of their three penalty corners in the 53rd minute and Richard Pautz scored the consolation goal off the second.
India will now await their opponent for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualifiers which will be decided in September.
Results: Final: India 5 (Varun Kumar 2, 49; Harmanpreet Singh 11, 25; Vivek Sagar Prasad 49) bt South Africa 1 (Richard Pautz 53).; 3-4 place: Japan 4 bt USA 2.
Olympic Test Events
Men, women reach finals
Striker Mandeep Singh struck a fine hat-trick to help the Indian men’s hockey team beat hosts Japan 6-3 and book a summit clash berth in the Olympic Test Event here on Tuesday. The Indian team bounced back from their 1-2 loss against New Zealand with an impressive display in their third match at the Oi Hockey Stadium. India again face New Zealand in the summit clash.
Mandeep found the target in the 9th, 29th and 30th minutes while Nilakanta Sharma (3rd), Nilam Sanjeep Xess (7th) and Gurjant Singh (41st) were the other scorers for India. Kentaro Fukuda (25th), Kenta Tanaka (36th) and Kazuma Murata (52nd) scored the goals for Japan.
The win put India in the second spot in the points table and they face toppers New Zealand in the summit clash.
Girls play out draw against China: Following an impressive performance against Australia, the Indian women’s hockey team secured its place in the final of the Olympic test event by playing out a 0-0 draw against China. The Indian team looked in good rhythm during the initial stages of the first quarter, and constantly built pressure on the Chinese defense.
China needed the victory to make sure that they progress to the final but India’s defense was up to the task, and seemed determined to consolidate their position at the top of the points table.
With a tally of five points from their three matches, India topped the points table, and will now face hosts and world No.14 Japan in the final on Wednesday. AGENCIES
Men, Women Win Finals
INDIANS SHINE IN JAPAN
Men’s And Women’s Hockey Teams Win Olympic Test Events
The Indian men’s hockey team won the Olympic test event here on Wednesday, beating New Zealand 5-0 to avenge the loss it endured in their round-robin clash. Captain Harmanpreet Singh (7th minute) set the ball rolling before Shamsher Singh (18th), Nilakanta Sharma (22nd), Gursahibjit Singh (26th) and Mandeep Singh (27th) scored for India at the Oi Hockey Stadium. India had lost 1-2 to New Zealand earlier in the league stage.
Both teams began the match on a cautious note by turning over the ball in the midfield. India won a penalty corner in the seventh minute, but couldn’t capitalise on the opportunity.
However, skipper Harmanpreet didn’t miss out on a re-awarded penalty corner. He executed a perfect drag-flick to put India ahead. The Indian team continued to hold possession and put pressure on the New Zealand defence as they ended the first quarter 1-0. Shamsher scored India’s second goal through a penalty corner in the 18th minute. New Zealand managed to make only two circle entries in the second quarter as the Indians scored three more goals.
Nilakanta found the back of the net in the 22nd minute before Gursahibjit and Mandeep scored in quick succession. Vivek Prasad intercepted the ball brilliantly to assist a goal for Gursahibjit and Mandeep converted a penalty corner just before the half-time whistle.
After an action-packed first half, the intensity dropped from both sides. New Zealand tried to make a few inroads in the third quarter as they took a shot in the 37th minute which went wide of the post. Jarmanpreet Singh saved a penalty corner in the next minute as the two teams Zealand played out a goalless quarter.
Women beat Japan 2-1
The Indian women hockey team won the Olympic Test event with Navjot Kaur and Lalremsiami leading the side to a 2-1 win over Japan in the final, here on Wednesday. Navjot Kaur (11th minute) opened the scoring to put India ahead but the lead was neutralised within a minute as Minami Shimizu (12’) scored for the hosts.
Lalremsiami (33’) struck the winning goal for India. India dominated the first 10 minutes, and finally managed to find the breakthrough when Forward Navjot kept her nerves under pressure and produced a fine finish in front of the goal. However, the next minute Japan make it 1-1. PTI
Men’s hockey team qualifies for Olympics
India decimated Russia 7-1 in their second Olympics qualifier to book their berth for 2020 Tokyo Games
With the emphatic win, India qualified for the Olympics for the 21st time, only missing out in 2008 Beijing Games
India registered an aggregate 11-3 win in the two-legged Olympic Qualifier BHUBANESWAR: It didn't start on expected lines. Down by two goals on aggregate, after losing the first game of the Olympic qualifiers 2-4 on Friday, Russia's Alexey Sobolevskiy's first-minute strike gave India the early jitters they so dreaded. But the next 59 minutes, Russia chased an unlikely upset that kept getting away from them. The icing on the cake for the Odisha crowd here at the Kalinga Stadium was local boy Amit Rohidas scoring the final goal in India's 7-1 win.
India's 11 goals against Russia's three in the two-legged qualifier booked a Tokyo Olympics ticket for the hosts. This was on expected lines.
India remained anxious for 16 minutes after Russia scored, when Lalit Upadhyay, in the 17th, levelled the game. Akashdeep Singh then erased memories of a forgettable first game for him with two goals in the 23rd and 29th minute. India led 3-1 at half-time.
The third quarter didn't produce any goals, as the Russian hopes kept afloat, even if ever so slightly. Nilakanta Sharma added the next nail to the coffin with his 47th-minute goal, and then drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh came into his own with two penalty-corner conversions in the 48th and 59th minute.
The success rate on penalty corners improved to 3/6 when Rohidas completed the last rites to flick in India's seventh and final goal, which followed the sound of the hooter and loud shouts of hockey fans in the stands.
The match-up against 22nd-ranked Russia was always one that would ask more questions, as you are expected to beat the minnows and if you don't do as expected, fingers are pointed.
Reid explained it.
"It's a very pressurised situation that you are in as a team and as coaching staff," the India coach said in his post-match comments.
"As far as Russia is concerned, they are a really good team. To think we would come out and play fantastically (every time) would probably downgrade the opposition."
But consistency is an objective Indian hockey has failed to tick with regularity. Reid is working towards that in run up to the Olympics.
India didn't begin well in both the matches against Russia, the drag-flickers switched on and off, the second-choice goalkeeper is still a question mark and the finishing of forwards remains a riddle.
"I think for me what we need to get better in is finishing. We are creating a lot of opportunities, which is great. But need to get more return from that. Also in deep defence, we have to get tighter, still giving away too many opportunities (to opponents)," Reid analysed.
There are around 10 months to iron out those creases before flying for the Olympics. The good part is India will have the competitive Pro League to play next year, where they can test their preparedness for the Games against quality opposition.
"I told the players just now that we have nine months (before the Olympics). Just get better and better. That's our plan. Focus on the process, the result will take care of itself," said the coach.
"You always dream of an Olympics podium finish. I was lucky to win one as a player and those memories are things you hold on to. That's what we need to bring to this team and give it a big shot.”
Sultan of Johor Cup
India beat Australia 5-1, qualify for final
India beat Australia 5-1, qualify for final of Sultan of Johor Cup:
The Indian junior men’s hockey team thrashed Australia 5-1 to qualify for the final of the 9th Sultan of Johor Cup. India’s clinical performance at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium saw goals from Shilanand Lakra (26’, 29’), Dilpreet Singh (44’), Gursahibjit Singh (48’) and Mandeep Mor (50’).
Indian men #4, women #9 in world
Indian men finish year fourth, women ninth in hockey rankings: The Indian men and women hockey teams will finish 2020 in fourth and ninth positions, respectively, after a major part of the year was disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The International Hockey Federation (FIH) on Monday confirmed that the Belgium men’s team and the Netherlands’ women will finish the year at the top of the world rankings.
Men’s team no.4
Men’s hockey team finishes decade with highest-ever ranking
The Indian men’s hockey team’s stellar start to their FIH Pro League campaign this year has gone a long way in helping them finish 2020 at fourth spot in the world rankings -- their highest since the system was introduced in 2003. India played six games in the Pro League before the hockey calendar ground to a halt due to the Covid-19 pandemic in March. They beat Olympic silver medallists the Netherlands 5-2 and 3-3 (3-1) and followed up with a 2-1 win over reigning world champions Belgium before losing 3-4 in the second leg of the tie. They lost 3-4 loss to Australia, but then went on to beat them 2-2 (3-1) in the second leg. TNN/AGENCIES
Ranks, worldwide, 2020: Men 4th (highest since 2003); women 9th
The Indian men’s hockey team has climbed a rung to the fourth position, their highest since the inception of the FIH world rankings in 2003, in the recently released chart. India’s excellent form in the first three rounds of the second edition of FIH Hockey Pro League has seen them move from fifth to fourth position.
India’s rise comes at the expense of Olympic champions Argentina, who dropped to fifth place.
World champions Belgium who in January defeated Australia in Sydney to wrestle top spot from their opponents remain in pole position, with the Kookaburras (2nd) and the Netherlands (3rd) also holding their positions in the top three. Germany and England remain in sixth and seventh position, while New Zealand are static at eighth place.
In the women’s list, India occupy the ninth spot. Netherlands are at the top followed by Australia, Argentina, Germany and England. PTI
Sub-junior men’s national: Jharkhand tops
Jharkhand win sub-junior men’s national hockey title: Jharkhand beat Haryana 3-1 via penalty shootout to clinch the 11th Sub-Junior Men’s National Championship hockey title on Thursday. The regulation time of 60 minutes ended in a goalless draw. Like his performance in the semifinal match against Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand goalkeeper Duga Munda emerged as the hero once again. He saved three of his opponents’ attempts while Asim Ekka, Deepak Soreng and Roshan Reetik Lakra scored in the shootout for Jharkhand. TNN/AGENCIES
The Olympic bronze-winning team
Indian Men's Hockey team (current)
- Bronze in Tokyo Olympics
- Bronze in 2018 Jakarta Asian Games
- Silver in 2018 Breda Champions Trophy
- Gold in 2018 Muscat Asian Champions Trophy
- Gold in 2017 Dhaka Asia Cup
- Bronze in 2016-17 Bhubaneswar World League
- Silver in 2016 London Champions Trophy
- Silver in 2016 Guwahati South Asian Games
- Bronze in 2014-15 Raipur World League
- Gold in 2014 Incheon Asian Games
- Silver in 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games
- Silver in 2013 Ipoh Asia Cup
- Gold in 2011 Ordos City Asian Champions Trophy
India were once a force to be reckoned with in men's hockey having won as many as eight gold medals at the Olympic Games. In fact, the last time the Games were held in Japan, in 1964, India won the gold medal. But after the gold in the 1980 edition, the wait for the next Men's hockey medal at the Olympics has been a very long one.
At Tokyo 2020, the 16-member Indian team was led by mid-fielder Manpreet Singh, who was the first Indian hockey player to be named the FIH men's hockey player of the year - in 2019. The Indian team has done well under Manpreet's captaincy over the past four years, having won the Asia Cup in 2017, the Asian Champions Trophy in 2018 and the FIH Series Final in 2019. They also reached the quarterfinals in the 2018 World Cup in Bhubaneswar.
These were Manpreet's third Olympic Games and he had two deputies in defenders Birendra Lakra and Harmanpreet Singh. Harmanpreet made his senior India debut in 2015 and in the absence of skipper Manpreet in 2019, led the Indian team to a win at the FIH Olympic Test event in Tokyo.
But the most interesting fact about this Indian squad is that out of the 16 players, as many as 10 players featured in their maiden Olympics.
These 10 players are: Amit Rohidas, Hardik Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Nilakanta Sharma, Sumit, Shamsher Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Gurjant Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay and Birendra Lakra. Birendra Lakra had missed the 2016 Rio Olympics due to a knee surgery.
The Indian players seemed to have learnt from the experience of defenders Rupinder Pal Singh and Surender Kumar and forward Mandeep Singh, who were all part of the previous Indian Olympic squad in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Krishan Bahadur Pathak missed out on an Olympic berth despite being an integral part of the team and former skipper PR Sreejesh was the lone goalkeeper in the squad. However Pathak did travel with the suad to Tokyo as the stand-by goal-keeper.
India were clubbed alongside defending champions Argentina, three-time world champions and current world no.1 Australia, New Zealand, Spain and hosts Japan in Pool A. India lost only to the Aussies (1-7), but won all their remaining matches to enter the quarter-finals.
In the quarters, India beat Great Britain 3-1 to storm into the semi-finals
However in the semis, India lost to former world number one team Belgium 2-5. That result meant they entered the bronze medal match where they played Germany.
The Germans are ranked 6th in the world, one place below India (5). It was end to end hockey on Thursday morning as neither team wanted to give an inch. The match momentum and scoreline sung like a pendulum. But in the end, India managed to hold on to a slender one goal difference to win the match 5-4 and with it a historic bronze medal.
It will be a very very sweet win for the whole team, which has so many young guns. It will be especially pleasing for the likes of seniors like Manpreet, Rupinder Pal Singh and PR Sreejesh who have put in years and years of hard work into Indian hockey. The coach Graham Reid must also be congratulated for shaping this Indian team and taking them back to the Olympic podium for the first time since 1980.
A wait of 41 years has finally ended.
Full India Men's hockey squad for Tokyo Olympics:
Goalkeeper: PR Sreejesh
Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Surender Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Birendra Lakra
Midfielders: Hardik Singh, Manpreet Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Nilakanta Sharma, Sumit
Forwards: Shamsher Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Gurjant Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Mandeep Singh
Stand-bys: Krishan Pathak (goal-keeper), Varun Kumar (defender), Simranjit Singh (midfielder)
Coach: Graham Reid
A famous victory over Great Britain
The spectator-less Oi Hockey Stadium in Tokyo might not have erupted in jubilation. But the cheers from India resonated across the world.
And it was all made possible by Hardik Singh, whose 57th-minute goal shut out all hopes of Great Britain securing an equaliser. It was a remarkable goal, reminiscent of Gagan Ajit Singh’s equaliser against Pakistan at the 2002 Busan Asian Games semi-final, but, perhaps, scored under more daunting circumstances. Captain Manpreet Singh had just been handed a yellow card, which meant he’d have to sit out for 10 minutes. For close to 10 minutes before the card, the Indians had thwarted wave after wave of attacks, hanging on to a brittle one-goal lead. And now they were 10 vs 11.
That’s when Hardik Singh sparked his 12-second magic, at the end of which India were 3-1 up with just three minutes of play left. Relive the magic run here:
In the 57th minute, goalkeeper P R Sreejesh had just averted the umpteenth British attack.
With most Britain players inside the Indian half, Harmanpreet Singh stepped up with the ball on top of the 25 yard line. He, spotting an unmarked Hardik about 12 yards to his right, released the ball.
Second 2 Hardik received the ball and ran for about 32 yards with it.
Around 27 yards before the opposition goal, he cut past Britain’s captain Adam Dixon before diagonally moving to the left.
For a moment, Britain defenders, four of them chasing Hardik, thought he would pass the ball to Nilakanta Sharma, who had busted his guts running alongside to his right, dragging a defender with him.
Second 8 Hardik continued his run, entered the 15-yard semi-circle and unleashed a slap from the left straight on to the pads of goalkeeper Oliver Payne.
The ball ricocheted off the pads of goalkeeper Payne and rolled past defenders, their momentum carrying them forward.
Second 10 As Hardik lunged for the ball again, for a moment it looked like an opportunity had been lost. He no longer had a clear view of the goal and there were, at least, three defenders blocking him.
But he did what the defenders did not expect him to. He took a light touch, dragged the ball to his right creating a little view and space to swing and unleashed a low shot without even looking at the goal-post.
It’s the narrowest of angles. But he managed to squeeze it in past to the left of the stretched Britain goalkeeper. It’s a goal.
Only three mins of play left
All India now had to do was run the clock down. And they did it with minimum fuss. This was Indian hockey’s, dare one say, golden moment.
This Indian victory, and the team’s Olympics campaign thus far, has displayed a special characteristic that was missing for decades – blinding field play. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, India scored 10 goals, but seven of them come from penalty corners. Coaches and experts felt India needed to score more field goals.
When TOI+ had asked India coach Graham Reid about the forwards and Rio Olympics stats before the team departed for Tokyo, he had said: “It’s an important department that needs to fire. We are a work-in-progress and doing well on that aspect.”
By the looks of how things have panned out in Tokyo, the work surely seems to have progressed well. Out of the 18 goals India has scored thus far, nine have come from open field play, seven through penalty corners and two penalty strokes have been converted.