Good morning friends. Happy Holi to everyone.
Who says Indian hockey is dead? If you were inside the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Sunday night and heard the crowd roar as a band of fighting, swinging, diving, rocking Indians raced to victory over arch-rivals Pakistan, you would have vowed to return again.
And to learn to love the forgotten boys of Indian sport once again. It was a night of redemption for the Blue Shirts. India had been demolished 7-1 by Pakistan inside this very stadium in 1982 in the Asian Games final.
They never recovered from there, losing the fans’ interest and slipping into oblivion. The 4-1 win in their opening match of the World Cup on Sunday washed away the bitterness of that humiliation. Yes, it was goosebumps night, a match to savour and cherish and one to take home with you, to stay with you forever.
The signs were all there in the evening. Fans were trooping in, draped in the Tricolour, restless to see magic on the turf. The crowd of 16,000 was mesmerized and went home more than satiated. Holi will certainly acquire a new flavour on Monday.
A lot of credit for this win goes to the Indian coaching team. It was a great tactical move to rest first goalkeeper Adrian D’Souza and play PR Sreejesh. The idea was to surprise Pakistan’s main weapon Sohail Abbas, the drag flick king of the world.
Abbas was floored completely and walked away with a lost look in his eyes. Pakistan earned six penalty corners and Abbas could convert only one. That settled it, nice and proper. However, two of his rasping hits came back from the post as even luck deserted Pakistan.
Beyond that, there were many heroes in the Indian camp. The defenders and midfielders were simply awesome as they kept the ball in possession in the first half, which helped India dictate terms. And when the time to drive the point home came, Sandeep Singh showed why he is feared by most goalkeepers in the world.