Well ok... I had to eat my words about India losing against the in-form Pakistani side in their Champions Trophy match yesterday. But, given the kind of win that India pulled off against their traditional rivals, I'll gladly eat my words!!
I reached home, after office, to find my excited dad at the door. He told me excitedly that it was 4-4 with 15 minutes to go in the second half. I flung my bag and sat in front of the TV.
And, it was wonderful!! ... two superb backhand flicks by Gagan Ajit Singh gave India an almost unassailable lead. And then Dhanraj Pillay's brilliant run down the right flank ended in the 7th goal by Deepak Thakur. Pakistan were dead and buried by that time. And India had scored 5 goals in the second half to Pakistan's 1. It was a famous win!! I was almost whooping with excitement as goals rained.
And now today... Australia have thrashed Argentina 8-3. This means that India is still in the contention for a medal. India will (I think) play Pakistan again to decide the bronze medal winner. Now that... is a match to watch!!
But just to take some wind out of the sails, I would like to remind that the game yesterday (Ind V Pak) was such a brilliant game just because it had two Asian teams playing the Asian flavour of the game i.e. free flowing hockey. Tight man-marking was conspicuous by its absence. This essentially allowed the teams to play freely... which is why we had piercing runs by the forwards of both the teams... and hence the flurry of goals. The Europeans play a different kind of game. They restrict the free movement of players that the Asians love so much. This results in stifling the Indians who then start going in for long passes and overhead balls... which leads nowhere and turns the possession over to the opposing team.
The Indian team, the captain and the coach included, should be well-advised not to let the win go to their heads. They should instead grab at this sliver of a chance to salvage a medal out of this Champions Trophy by repeating the tough-as-nails performance against Pakistan when they meet the next time around in the tournament.