India lost in the finals of hockey again

India lost to defending champions Australia 3-1 in  shootout of Champions Trophy final on Sunday in Breda,Netherlands.This is their best ever finish in the last edition of Champions Trophy along with silver medal won in 2016 also.Coincidentally,it was Australia who tamed India on penalties in the 2016 final.

India created many chances in the first quarter making inroads into opponents circle.However Australia opened the scoring in 24th minute through penalty corner conversion by Blake Govers.
At half time Australia led 1-0.In the third quarter 17 year old Vivek Sagar scored field goal in 42nd minute to draw level for India.Goal brought crowd back into the game with mostly cheering for India including Dutch fans.In the fourth quarter both teams pressed for winner but efforts paid no dividends.Match ended 1-1 after 60 minutes paving the way for shootout.In the shootout Sardara Singh missed the opening attempt.Harmanpreet Singh found the net but only after the hooter.Lalit Upadhyay also missed the target while Australia scored with their first two attempts by Aran and Daniel.This is a Australia’s record 15th Champions Trophy title in its 37th edition.
The result was unlucky for India again as they have yet to win this title.Apart from two silver medals they also won bronze in 1982.However India can take a lot of positives from this event.Firstly it was coach Harendra Singh’s first major assignment.The team responded well with victories over Pakistan,Olympic champions Argentina while drawing the other two against Belgium and hosts Netherlands.Both their losses came against world champions Australia.
Secondly goalkeeper P R Sreejesh was outstanding throughout and deserved the Best goalkeeper award.S V Sunil,Harmanpreet Singh and Sardar Singh also played well.Indian defence stood tall against Netherlands in last round robin game and also in the final.India have learnt from their past mistake of conceding the goal in the final minutes as our defenders did fine job.
Now the focus will shift to Asian Games in August and World Cup thereafter.Bluesticks have gained much needed confidence from their show in Champions Trophy.More importantly they can match top hockey nations in the world.Let us hope India regain their lost glory in hockey.

Shailesh Padhye

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