Hockey heroes Why you should cheer India’s Champions Trophy run
An 8-0 thrashing in the 2010 Commonwealth Games final in New Delhi, 4-0 in the 2014 CWG final, another 4-0 hiding in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup final in 2016 and 6-2 in Hockey World League semifinals 2015 at Antwerp.
These have been the scoreline of matches in recent times when India has met the mighty Australia in the final of major hockey tournaments.
The two countries have clashed for the gold medal 14 times and the Kookaburras have emerged triumphant in 10 of them while two matches ended in draw (according to statisticians, results of matches decided in shoot-outs are entered as draws).
However, the 15th clash between these two countries in a final proved the best and a memorable one as Roelant Oltmans’ India matched the World No 1 move for move and even bettered the mighty Kookaburras in some aspects of the game to hold them goalless in regulation time in the Champions Trophy final at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London on Friday.
They eventually lost 1-3 in the penalty shootout, unlucky to miss out despite fighting back bravely. India missed three attempts out of four to lose the match despite some heroic attempts by goalkeeper skipper PR Sreejesh.
India may have lost the match; it was a great performance by the team in the final. Actually, it was India’s best performance ever in the Champions Trophy, bettering the bronze medal bagged in Amsterdam in 1982. That was thus far the only medal for India in 15 appearances in this prestigious competition. It was ironical that India’s silver medal, in their first appearance in the final of a world-class event in 36 years (after the 1980 Olympics Games final in Moscow), came in the penultimate edition of the competition which will be discontinued after 2018.
Whether India manages to better their performance in the last edition of Champions Trophy in 2018 or not, the team’s display in the final of the 36th edition puts the final among the best-ever matches in the history of the prestigious tournament.