Back to the 70s?
40 years ago a cricket bat and a hockey stick stood in the corner of every middle class Indian child’s room. The hockey stick was lost as India lost game after crucial game in the 80s. Now with Indian cricket in the middle of one of its worst seasons , will the hockey stick find a second wind?
The Indian men’s hockey team has been doing pretty well in the Olympic qualifiers. TOI reports:
India doused Polish hopes to win their final league match in the Olympic qualifiers at the National stadium on Friday and book a berth in the final.
The 4-2 win ensured that India finished their league engagements with an all-win record, with 15 points from five matches. India’s win ended Poland’s (nine points) campaign and pitched the hosts up against France (10 points) on Sunday for a place in the London Olympics.
France had earlier knocked out Canada (7 points) by holding them 1-1.
Poland went into the match with a solid game plan, which was not allowing India any space inside the circle, and a burning desire to get into the final.
India managed to penetrate the rival defence almost at will but they failed to find the target on most occasions, much to the disappointment of a boisterous crowd.
Quite like the match against Canada, the strikers floundered yet again under the lights — most of their attempts were either hit straight at the goalkeeper or were way off target. Their play lacked purpose. They seemed complacent, probably because they had already secured their place in the final.
[After a see-saw match] India suddenly changed gears and slammed home two goals, both from penalty corners – first through VR Raghunath in the 63rd minute and then Sandeep in the dying moments of the match.
The Hindu reported that the women’s team has been doing equally well:
In a desperate situation, the Indian women’s hockey team knew that it had to soothe its nerves and bolster its determination before taking on Italy in the final round robin league match of the Olympic qualifier.
The host barely managed to handle the pressure before edging past Italy 1-0 and reaching the summit clash against South Africa, at the National Stadium here on Friday.
After completing its league engagements, India gathered 10 points from five matches.
Italy, placed second in the table before the match with eight points and needing at least a draw to play the final, never missed an opportunity to attack the Indian post. Nevertheless, it could not beat the home side’s defence, led by Mukta Prava Barla and Subhadra Pradhan, which lifted its performance to make some quick interceptions and timely clearances.