Looking at the performance of the Indian Hockey team in the Champions Trophy in Amstelveen, I wonder what went wrong!
After a string of impressive performances, the team even got Sahara India as the sponsors... a noteworthy achievement for any sport other than cricket, in India. But looking at the team perform in the Champions Trophy, I just wonder where is all the confidence and skill that helped them win two international tournaments in the recent past.
All the sports decry the attention that cricket gets in India. But what they fail to acknowledge is the fact that the cricketers are always under tremendous pressure to perform and yet they deliver the goods most of the times against the best in the game. This hockey team was under certain pressure to perform given their impressive recent record. And they crumbled in a grand fashion. The pressure got to them!! It was there for all to see... live on TV... how they were high-strung in all their games. The fear of losing was inhibiting them. The expectations proved too much for a team not equipped to handle such pressures.
I can understand a shock defeat to Holland in a match that the Indians controlled for all of 63 minutes without conceding a goal. But in the very next match, a second-string development side from Germany managed to hold the Indians at bay till the last moments of the match before the Indians managed to save their face. The next loss to Australia could also be forgiven considering the strength of the Australian side. But the match against Argentina that came next should have been an easy one. Argentina, while a good side, is certainly not a major force. But the Indians played pathetically to lose the match.
The next match is against Pakistan on Friday and I don't see India winning given their current form, or the lack of it, and the great form of the Pakistani team. If they lose, the Indians will have a playoff match to decide the last two places... certainly not the result expected from this Champions Trophy!!
Individual brilliance and selfish play will never benefit in a team game. Indians stick to the old formula of brilliant solo runs down the flanks while the need of the hour on the astro-turf pitches is that of extreme speed and short passing, something that the Indian team sadly did not seem to grasp. Moreover, the individual brilliance of wizards like Dhanraj Pillay is wasted due to the crowding tactics employed by the opposition.
Anyways... I could go on and on and on...
But tell me one thing... who was that brilliant chap who decided to have the preparation and conditioning camp for the Champions Trophy, to be played at Amstelveen which is below sea-level, at a place in Himachal Pradesh that is about 6600 feet above sea-level?!! :-o