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Hockey at its very Best

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It is true that Hockey no more holds the Number 1 Sport status in India due to various reasons…A-just for the plain and simple fact that there isn’t any huge money in Hockey to inspire kids to start playing Hockey seriously…B-our Team hasn’t performed the way it should have to get the crowds cheering for them consistently and lastly & most importantly C-the apathy of our successive Governments who have not paid enough attention to the glorious sport of Hockey…

Inspite of that just the fact that the FIH Hockey World Cup is being played out in New Delhi’s new & swanky Major Dhyanchand National Stadium and the inaugural day had the legendary match of India-Pakistan being played out, I just could not stop myself from attending the big day…28th February-one day after my crazy farewell party night and one day before the mad Holi celebrations our Hockey players gave Indians another reason to celebrate like there was no tomorrow and I can proudly say that I was witness to watching Pakistanis getting mauled by a much superior Indian team and all 16,000 fans getting much more than their money worth…

We reached while the Australia-England match was on and that too has a history of rivalries behind them but sadly the match was not worthy enough of their competitive rivalry, surprisingly England won and it took them almost 20 years to defeat the Aussies…we had 2 English supporters sitting right next to us and one of them was quite consistent in his support-chant…a very warm & affectionate “Come on England” which I found very tame to cheer anybody…but still they won and he was extremely elated and we joined his celebrations…we knew what he was about to witness…the chants he won’t have even dreamt of hearing!!! The big one was about to start…

In between the match a batch of some 50-odd Pakistani Fans entered the stadium and were treated to some really loud chants of “Bharat Mata ki Jai” and “Hindustan Zindabad”…the Security men started to get helter-skelter to ensure that there was no untoward incident which might had marred the revelry on offer…Jingo-Nationalism at it’s very best and one thing I really don’t like…it’s so easy to shout like mad and not do a thing to really make our country the best…this discussion some other time…lets get back to Hockey!!!

So what I was tired after a drunk night and exhausted after back-t0-back BOP Parties but I had a ball during the match…the initial few minutes were really tense for me and I held back my emotions as I wanted our team to take the lead first and not play catch-up and was praying for our team…

And then in the 27th minute Shivendra Singh scored the first goal through a Penalty Corner and all hell broke loose after that…all 16,000 of us were up on our feet and chanting what-not!!! I am sure you don’t really want the details…I became hysteric after that and nothing was going to stop me now…I was helped again by a penalty corner conversion by our PC expert Sandeep Singh in the 35th minute and then a field goal by Prabhjot Singh in the 37th minute…a 3-0 lead was the best we had hoped for at the end of the 1st half…the 10 minutes break was perfectly utilized by me and I danced away to glory…the neighbor Britisher asked me gently…”What transformed you?” and I replied fervently…”Nothing to match seeing my country do well!!!”…it was great on his part as well as he joined me in each goal-celebration like a kid and I am sure he was enjoying this match more than the previous match!!!

The second half started just the way everybody was hoping for…some tight plays later in the 56th minute Sandeep Singh again converted a penalty corner and then everybody knew that we won’t lose from this point save for some really bad luck…5 goals in 14 minutes for any team was too tough a challenge to meet…

And then the bantering started…The Pakistani Goalkeeper Salman Akbar was facing our portion of the crowd and we started chanting “Andar ki baat hai…Salman hamaare saath hai” which when translated into the Queen’s Language meant “Salman is with us and it’s classified information!!!” and he started to respond back to us by shaking his head and showing his displeasure by waving his hockey stick at us but we were not stopping, I kept chanting Salman-Salman like crazy till the very end and I am damn sure he must have had nightmares of the chants!!!

The legend Sohail Abbasi brought some consolation to his fans by converting one penalty corner into a goal but that was all too late…I had given him a nice nickname “Pole-Dancer” as he had hit the pole twice during his last 2 drag-flick attempts at the goal…he looked hassled after that and was a failure through the entire match, even the great Rehan Butt was not playing to his best…Indians were playing at their very best and the Pakis had no answer to our counter-attacks and defensive plays and the mid-fielders were simply superb in getting the ball to the right places and providing the perfect opportunities to our attacking forwards…

And when the final hooter sounded off the noise reached its highest levels and I removed my shirt and waved my flag endlessly till Dips told me that it was getting late…with a heavy heart I had to stop my celebrations and leave the stadium but not before my body was completely exhausted and my throat used to its limits!!!
On the way out Sunny Paaji told me that the famous Punjabi Singer Jassi of “Dil le gayi Gujarat ki” fame was safely leaving the stadium in the garb of the big crowd and I dodn’t let that opportunity passed by…I attacked him from the behind and hugged him and started singing or shouting his most famous song, he was clearly embarrassed and left in a hush!!!

All-in-all a great day for our National Sport and the perfect Holi Celebrations for our country…India played like true champions and should take this momentum forward to play similarly and reach the semi-finals…yes the next few matches are really tough and we would be playing much better teams than the Pakis but if we play the same way then nothing would stop us from the all-elusive World Cup Title…
Amen to that…

Thanks a lot to Ajit Bhai…my BOP Buddy who started the Hockey mail chain and booked my ticket for the match and to Dips, Pravin, Sunny, Durgesh & Arunima for being my co-spectators…

The Goal Sheet…
Pakistan vs India 1:4
• IND 27mn Shivendra SINGH (PC) 0:1
• IND 35+mn Sandeep SINGH (PC) 0:2
• IND 37mn Prabhjot SINGH (FG) 0:3
• IND 56mn Sandeep SINGH (PC) 0:4
• PAK 59mn Sohail ABBAS (PC) 1:4

India’s schedule in the FIH World Cup…
• Tuesday, March 2 – India vs Australia
• Thursday, March 4 – India vs Spain
• Saturday, March 6 – India vs England
• Monday, March 8 – India vs South Africa

So till the time we meet again…

Cheers to life…

Till then ride safe and have safe sex…

Inquilab Zindabad…

Hasta la Victoria Siempre…

Jai BoP!

3 Comments

  1. Well… We have to hold our horses. This may be a flash in the pan. As far as your reasons for Hockey’s demise in our country goes I think its C which is the parental reason for A and B as well.

  2. Nothing tastes sweeter than success and India’s win over Pakistan in our national sports has just cloyed the entire experience…..! It has been an exhilarating week with Sachin’s double century and grand opening in hockey world cup… :)… India is high on these recent successes and we as an ardent fan of sports and our country would only wish for this success to continue and last for ever…

    Truly captured the sentiments of the games..

    Cheers ,
    Madhumita 🙂

  3. A truly memorable time.
    A first time experience and a great one at that. If it wasnt the cumbersome process of ticket purchase, I would have gone for more matches.

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