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Hockey World Cup 2018: India seek repeat of 1975 glory

News Nation Bureau | Edited By : Siddharth Vishwanathan | Updated on: 26 Nov 2018, 12:28:18 PM
India's hockey team have failed to secure medal for the last 43 years and they will be desperate to break the jinx this time. (Image credit: Twitter)

New Delhi:

The year 1975 is considered as one of the darkest years in India. The country was under Emergency rule declared by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and civil liberties were suspended. The events which took place in June 1975 scarred the country for generations. However, before the Emergency, in March 1975, there was an event which gave India glory on the world stage and rekindled the love for hockey among the Indian public.

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Before the World Cup, India’s domination of hockey was coming to an end. Having won seven gold medals in eight editions from 1928 to 1964, the team started to perform inconsistently. In 1968 and 1972, the team settled for the bronze medal while at the same time, Pakistan’s hockey team were on the surge. They won the 1968 Olympics in Mexico while in 1972, they settled for silver after losing to West Germany. The dominance of Pakistan and the surge of teams like Netherlands, West Germany and Australia resulted in India losing their aura.

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With Pakistan winning the inaugural World Cup in 1971 in Barcelona and India securing silver in 1973 Amstelveen, the stage was set for India to regain their lost glory in the sport they once dominated in the 1975 World Cup held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Decent start, stumble in the middle

India started their 1975 campaign with a 2-1 win over England and drew 1-1 against Australia. With a 7-0 win over Ghana, things looked bright for the Indian team but a shocking 1-2 loss to Argentina resulted in desperate times for India. They bounced back in style and took their revenge on West Germany with a 3-1 win in their last group game. Thanks to the win, they managed to finish on seven points with West Germany but they entered the semi-final.

In the semi-final, India faced stiff resistance from hosts Malaysia but they emerged 3-2 winners thanks to a goal in the 79th minute from Harcharan Singh. With Pakistan defeating West Germany 5-1, the stage was set for an India vs Pakistan showdown.

Glory for India

In a tense final, Pakistan took the lead in the 17th minute thanks to Zahid Sheikh. India equallised in the 44th minute with full back Surjit Singh’s scoring a penalty. However, there was controversy in the 51st minute regarding Ashok Kumar’s goal. Ashok, the son of legendary hockey player Dhyan Chand, took a shot off a rebound. Pakistan contested that the ball had not crossed the goal line but Malaysian umpire G. Vijaynathan eventually awarded the goal to the Indians. The rest is history as India secured the gold medal for the first time.

However, the 1975 World Cup represented the last peak for Indian hockey. The switch from grass to astro-turf hit India and they never attained success. Although they won gold in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, India has never attained success on the big stage. The tragedy of the 1975 World Cup win was that most of the members in that team were not considered for many awards like the Arjuna Awards.

Heading into the 2018 World Cup, India would be aiming to repeat the glory of 1975. A win now could spark a resurgence in a sport which was once dominated by the country.

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First Published : 26 Nov 2018, 12:28:10 PM