Thursday, August 28, 2014

Exclusive Interview: Pitaji was a man of few words, recalls Dhyan Chand's son Ashok Kumar



This piece was published in Sportskeeda
 

Dhyan Chand’s hockey wizardry left a deep imprint in the minds of hockey lovers – the grace, dexterity, poise, gumption he exuded on the hockey maidans – made him a household figure in India. Dhyan Chand was an invincible factor in India’s three Olympic gold medal triumphs in 1928, 1932 and 1936 – he loves to reserve his best for the final – at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics he scored twice in India’s 3-0 win over the Netherlands in the final – at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, he slammed eight goals in the all-famous 24-1 hammering of USA and was later again among the goals in the 1936 Berlin Olympics final against Germany which they won 8-1, a game where he took off his shoes at half-time and played barefooted in the second half. Dhyan Chand made his last international match in 1948 scoring more than 400 international goals. He was bestowed the coveted Padma Bhushan in 1956 – the same year he retired from the Army as a Major.

Sadly, the towering image he has built during his playing days and beyond, hasn’t been accompanied by recognition befitting his stature. No wonder, he did not want his son Ashok Kumar to take up hockey as a career option. “Pitaji (dad) did not get much in terms of financial recognition from any quarters despite all his achievements. So, he kept discouraging me to opt for hockey as a career,” says the legend’s son and former Indian forward Ashok Kumar in an exclusive interview, recalling the times he spent with the illustrious father on his 109th birth anniversary.

Ashok Kumar recalled those days when his Allahabad-born father was opposed to him playing hockey. “He was against me taking up hockey seriously, so I used go the maidan to play hockey by slipping across our house’s back door. Believe it or, pitaji first saw him playing hockey when I represented Bengal in the Seniors Nationals in Bangalore in 1970. I still remember a lot of pressmen and people turned up to see my dad and me at the same venue and my father told the pressmen ‘he has a long way to’…”. Ashok Kumar, in fact, was a stalwart also – he played in four World Cups (1971, 1973, 1975, 1978) two Olympics (1972 and 1976) as well as three Asian Games (1970, 1974, 1978).

Prod Ashok as to why Dhyan Chand’s exploits went unnoticed during those days, he says, “Well, pitaji did not belong to a financially sound family. He was employed with the Indian Army, but there were hardly any financial rewards doled out to him during those heydays. I think that was one of the main factors for the start of the decline of Indian hockey as youngsters probably felt that if a stalwart like Dhyan Chand receive step-motherly treatment, it was a futile exercise to pursue hockey as a career path.”

According to Ashok, his legendary father was a man of few words. “I remember when I returned home after winning the 1975 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, it took me three hours to reach home from the railway station. When I reached home which was packed with mediamen, fans, family members, etc, I touched pitaji’s feet at the house entrance seeking his blessings, and he gladly touched my head flashing a smile – a smile which was more than words – just indicated the satisfaction of a dad seeing his son do something for the country.”

Statistics of hockey players are hard to find, but Ashok says it’s the medals that more than other things. “Today, we see players talk about the number of internationals they have played for the country. I firmly believed that how many medals you won matter more than the number of internationals played for the country. If a player has featured in many internationals for the country, but has not won any medal, there is nothing to show in terms of achievements,” he fires the parting shot.

The legend Dhyan Chand died of liver cancer on December 3, 1979 at the age of 74. His birthday anniversary is celebrated as the National Sports Day every year – an opportunity to remember the legend, who instilled fear in the minds of the opposition all across the globe.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Interview: India have to be at their best to win 2014 Asian Games, says Terry Walsh


This piece was published in Sportskeeda



The Indian senior men’s hockey team has injected hopes among hockey lovers about regaining the glory days of yesteryears. The Terry Walsh-coached Indian team’s silver-winning performance at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games has indeed caused tongues wagging about the marked improvement in the team’s performance and has instilled a self-belief that the team can take on the best in the business. The CWG performance diluted the disappointment of the national team finishing 9th at the 2014 World Cup at The Hague, Netherlands.

The high-on-confidence Indians will be looking to dish out another robust showing in the upcoming Incheon Asian Games beginning September 19. “We have to be at our best to win the Asian Games as the winner secures a ticket to the 2016 Rio Olympics. The kind of progress the team have made in recent times definitely makes me feel optimistic about our Asiad-winning chances you could say the team is looking good to achieve that,” says Indian team head coach Terry Walsh in an exclusive interview.


The celebrated Aussie coach, however, guarded against any complacency. “No team can be taken for granted. We have Pakistan in our group and they are a highly skilled side, who can trouble any side on their day. Malaysia and South Korea are formidable opponents and we will be facing them in the latter stages of the tournament since both of them are placed in Pool A.


Besides Malaysia and South Korea, Pool A features Japan, Bangladesh and Singapore, while the Pool B comprises Sri Lanka and Oman besides India and Pakistan to make it a nine-team men’s event.

Ground work should be in place

Dwelling on India’s CWG performance in Glasgow, Walsh feels that the team raised their game by a several notches as the tournament wore on. “The boys have put in the hard yards, and as far as our first game against Wales is concerned it was not as if the team did not play well, just that we did not settle down in the first half but overcome that in the second half. We have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but we are beginning to jell as a unit going into the upcoming Asian Games,” he observes. The passing, trapping and penalty conversions have shown a distinct improvement in the Commonwealth Games, something Walsh acknowledges. “We have improved in these areas, but we need to sustain it and only then we can beat top teams regularly,” he adds.

Walsh stressed on the need of putting in place a systematic hockey programme at the grassroots level. “Having a systematic grass root level programme will hold the key to Indian hockey’s future. If we can have professionally-run hockey academies in each state, and churn out quality local coaches, I’m sure Indian hockey will be a redoubtable outfit in the years to come.”

We have a team that could test anyone

Walsh touched on out-of-favour drag-flicker Sandeep Singh and indicated that the ball is in his court if he wants to stage a comeback. “Look, Sandeep is currently out of the 33 probables who are training for the upcoming Asian Games. He has to work hard at the domestic tournaments and the 2015 Hockey India League to merit a place in the national side. Sandeep is a seasoned campaigner and I know being part of the side for so long, he will find their comeback route harder than ever before. If he can show that he deserves a place in the national team, we will pick him,” he says matter-of-factly.

There is a general perception that the team have the wherewithal to beat sides ranked between 4 to 7 like England, Belgium, Argentina and New Zealand, if not the top-3 (Australia, Germany and Netherlands). Walsh has no doubts about it. “I agree that we have the ammunition to beat these sides. I narrowly lost to England and Belgium in the World Cup, but had beaten Korea and New Zealand. This clearly shows the team is progressing.”


So what’s the realistic picture for the 2016 Rio Olympics? “I strongly believe in getting the processes in place. I believe we need to raise the performance bar and keep working on our basics. I don’t wish to jump to any conclusions, but a top-6 finish is definitely there for the taking,” he quips.


The writer can be contacted at:suhridbarua@gmail.com

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Indian team’s Asian Games camp begins today


The Indian men’s hockey team will begin their preparatory camp for the upcoming Incheon Asian Games at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium in New Delhi on Friday. The 33 probables will be put through their paces under head coach Terry Walsh and other support staff. The team is brimming with confidence after bagging a silver in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
The Sardar Singh-led side put up a splendid effort at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, stunning world number 6 New Zealand 3-2 in the semifinals before losing the final to much superior Australia. At the Incheon Asian Games, India will be pitted against defending champions Pakistan, who failed to make it to the 2014 World Cup for the first time ever, Korea and Malaysia.

India have shown significant improvement this year, beating three higher ranked teams under coach Walsh. They beat Olympic champions and then world number two Germany 5-4 at the Hockey World League Final Round in New Delhi, seventh ranked Korea 3-0 at the 2014 World Cup and sixth ranked New Zealand at the recent CWG.

The Asian Games schedule is not yet out and it remains to be seen who are the teams India are pitted with.
 

Hockey India announces Rs 2 lakh cash award for Arjuna Award-ignored hockey players

Call it a raw deal? Well, you could add something more than.  Seven hockey players – Dharamvir Singh, V.R. Raghunath, Tushar Khandker, Bharat Chetri and Shivendra Singh (men) besides Joydeep Kaur (women) and Ritu Rani (women) – recommended by Hockey India for the covered Arjuna Award were not chosen by the Kapil Dev-led Arjuna Awards selection committee.

The development has left Hockey India hot under the collar. Hockey India secretary general Narinder Batra has slammed the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the Sports Ministry for cold-shouldering the hockey players. Batra wondered how commentator Anupam Ghulati, who is a former employee of HI, can be part of the committee.
Hockey India feels sorry for the seven players and now decided to dole out a cash award of Rs 2 lakh each for all the seven players.

All the seven hockey players have served the country well one hopes that the development does not dent their morale ahead of their upcoming international competitions.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Indian players make their international debut, but never retire, says former captain Rajpal Singh




One of the sad realities of Indian hockey is that we do hear players making their international debuts, but unlike most other sports, players seldom get an opportunity to announce a ‘formal retirement’ from the game – at most times these players are dropped from the national team and we are often keep guessing what are the selectors’ line of thinking as in some cases some players never return to the national fold even they have age and form on their side. “In India a hockey player makes his international debut, but never retires. Look, when you say a player retires he should stop playing all forms of hockey like you see in cricket. As for hockey a player dropped from the national side in India continues playing at the state-level or club-level and there is no clarity from the selectors also. That’s why I’m saying a hockey player in India never retires,” says former Indian hockey captain Rajpal Singh in an exclusive interview.

Rajpal bore the brunt of Hockey India’s ire when he along with his players rejected the shoe-string cash award of Rs 25,000 after India won the Asian Champions Trophy in September, 2011 in Ordos, China. He led the protests against the federation and was not only stripped of his captaincy but also axed from the national side for India’s next international assignment – 2012 Olympics qualifiers held in New Delhi in February 2012. So, effectively the Asian Champions Trophy was Rajpal’s last international tournament and the final in which India beat arch-rivals Pakistan was his last international match. Till date, we are left to only assume that his international career is over, as there has been no clarity from the national hockey selectors on Rajpal. “It wasn’t hard to understand why I was stripped of captaincy and dropped from the national side. I paid a price for taking the lead in protesting for the players’ rights,” the former forward says.

Rajpal, who made his senior international debut at the 2005 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, turns 31 next month and is only seeing things realistically as far as his international career is concerned. “Although it is said everyone lives on hope, the fact that of my former team-mates have become either selectors or coach, it is an indication of where I stand,” Rajpal, who is married to Commonwealth Games gold medallist and Olympian shooter Avneet K Sidhu, observes.

The confabulation veers towards the Indian team's participating in the 2014 Commonwealth Games and Rajpal believes the good performance will bode well for the team. “The boys dished out a good performance in CWG, which will keep the boys in a good frame of mind for the Asian Games, where an Olympic berth is up for grabs,” he quips.
Comeback man Gurbaj Singh has been really shaping up well for India and Rajpal is not at all surprised with the midfielder’s efforts. “Gurbaj is a class act and there is extra hunger in him to do well given that he was dropped from the team after the 2012 London Olympics. In my book, Gurbaj is not just an asset to the side, he is also captaincy material – an option India can also exercise in future if needed,” says Rajpal who like Gurbaj is employed with Punjab Police.

Rajpal has many achievements on the hockey pitch, but which are the ones rates very highly. “Winning the 2001 Junior World Cup in Hobart and winning the bronze medal in the 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games,” he signs off.

The writer can be contacted at: suhridbarua@gmail.com



Saturday, August 9, 2014

India 'A' side pip Bangladesh 3-1 to sweep three Test series

India 'A' men's hockey team whipped Bangladesh 3-1 to sweep the three Test series in Dhaka. The Indians took the lead through Yuvraj Walmiki before scoring another two in the second half through Gurjinder Singh and skipper Vikram Kanth.


Bangladesh scored their only goal in the second half. India had earlier won the first and second Tests by 2-1 and 5-1 margins respectively.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Pakistan captain Muhammad Imran sees India as big threat at Asiad



Pakistan’s men’s hockey team captain Muhammad Imran feels India will post the biggest threat at the upcoming Incheon Asian Games beginning next month. Imran was quoted as saying in Pakistan newspaper Daily Times that Korea and Malaysia will offer stiff challenge, but the biggest challenge will be thrown by India.

The 35-year-old, who was part of the gold-medal winning Pakistan team at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, rued Pakistan’s absence from the recently-concluded Glasgow Commonwealth Games, depriving them of vital international exposure ahead of the Asian Games, where the Greenshirts will have a real battle on their hands to retain the title.

The experienced fullback, who led the national team to glory in the 2012 Asian Champions Trophy in Doha, sounded confident of putting up a good showing in Incheon under head coach Shahnaz Sheikh.

Ex-French international Frederic Soyez named Spain men's hockey coach


Former French international player Frederic Soyez has been named the coach of the Spain men’s hockey team. The Real Spanish Federation of Hockey took this decision to appoint Soyez after the contract of former coach Salvador Indurain was not renewed after a two-year stint, following Spain’s disappointing eight place finish at the 2014 Rabobank World Cup.


The Spanish side under coach Salvador Indurain managed to win only one game in their league phase – they lost 0-3 to Australia 2-5 to Belgium, drew England 1-1, drew India before pulling off their only win – a 5-2 victory over Malaysia – they lost to New Zealand 1-4 in a shootout in the 7/8 place classification match after both teams are locked 1-1 in normal time.

Indurain’s replacement Soyez had earlier served as the national coach of the France men’s hockey team as well as the Under-21 teams, is well acquainted with Spanish hockey having played in the Spanish league for over 7 years. He made 196 international appearances for France and scored 195 goals and ended his playing career in 2009 before taking up coaching with Lille in 2010, helping them win the French national title to qualify for the EHL in the 2012/13 season.

Soyex’s main challenge will be to lift Spain’s fortunes at the 2016 Rio Olympics – they had finished sixth in the 2012 London Olympics after  losing to Belgium in the 5/6th place tie.

Tamil Nadu CM announced Rs 30 lakh cash award for Rupinder Pal Singh


India’s silver-winning performance at the recently-concluded 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games has hardly gone unnoticed by the powers-that-be save for a rousing welcome by Hockey India during the team’s arrival at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport.

Neither the Sports Ministry nor the corporate house have announced any felicitation programmes or cash awards for the national team. But one lady – Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa – seems to have taken the lead announcing a cash award of Rs 30 lakh for Indian fullback Rupinder Pal Singh for being part of the silver-winning team in CWG.
Rupinder, who hails from Punjab, is employed with Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) which is based in Chennai, and that’s explains why he is doled out the cash award.

Goalkeeper PR Sreejesh is another Indian player, who is employed with Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) in Chennai. Midfielder Manpreet Singh, who was employed with Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) earlier this year, but has since switched over to Bharat Petroleum (BP).


Indian men's 'A' side crush Bangladesh 5-1 to clinch three Test series

India's men's 'A' hockey team came from behind to brush aside 30th ranked Bangladesh 5-1 to win the three Test series in Dhaka. India had earlier won the first Test 2-1.

Harjeet Singh brought India on level terms after Bangladesh took the lead in the 7th minute. The goal literally opened the floodgates as Yuvraj Walmiki, SK Uthappa and Devinder Walmiki scored to put India in a commanding position at half-time with a 4-1 lead. Affan Yousuf added one more in the second half to seal an impressive win for his side.


The third and final Test will be played on Saturday.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

India 'A' beat Bangladesh 2-1

The Indian men's 'A' team put it across Bangladesh 2-1 in the first Test at Dhaka. The Vikramjeet Kanth-led side were pushed on the backfoot when the 30th ranked Bangladeshi side took the early lead.

India took some time to settle down and they soon hit rhythm levelling the issue through a field goal by drag-flick expert Gurjinder Singh. Talented Harjeet Singh produced the match-winner to ensure his side team 1-0 in the three match series.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Silver winning Indian hockey team returns home

The silver medal-winning Indian men’s hockey team returned home this morning after taking part in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. The Terry Walsh-coached side lost the one-sided final 0-4 to world champions to settle for the silver – a repeat of what they achieved at the 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games.

India started their campaign on an insipid note, scrapping past Wales 3-1 before gradually hitting the groove easing past Scotland 6-2. India upper their game by several notches and lost to world number one Australia 2-4 in a well fought game, before going on to drub South Africa 5-2 to reach the semifinals in style.

India, who lost the services of regular skipper Sardar Singh for unbecoming on-field behavior for the semifinal against New Zealand, surprised the higher ranked Black Sticks 3-2 after trailing 0-2 at one stage to set up a final date with Australia, where they finished second best.

India will get some time to recharge their batteries before they take part in the Incheon Asian Games beginning September 19 an event where the winner seals a berth for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Fullback Vickram Kanth to captain India ‘A’ team for Bangladesh Test series


A second-string Indian men’s hockey team will play a three Test series against Bangladesh to gain vital exposure before the upcoming Asian Games. Although team is marked by the absence of players from the Commonwealth Games-bound squad, there is a possibility that some of these fringe players could make it to the Incheon-bound squad. Experienced defender Vickram Kanth will captain the so-called India ‘A’ side, while former forward-turned-midfielder S K Uthappa will be his deputy.

The 18-member squad features talented drag-flicker Gurjinder Singh besides medio Jasjit Singh, who made his senior international debut at the 2014 World Cup. The team also comprises Yuvraj Walmiki and Lalit Upadhyay, both of whom were sent as late-minute replacements for the injured combo of Ramandeep Singh and Nikkin Thimmaiah at the 2014 World Cup.

Yuvraj’s brother Devender along with striker Nithin Thimmaiah, who played in the Hockey World Final Round in New Delhi, is also named in the squad.

The team, which leaves for Dhaka on Tuesday, will play the first Test against Bangladesh on August 6 and then have a day off before locking horns in the second Test on August 8. The third and final Test will be played on August 9.

Squad: Goalkeepers: Harjot Singh, Sushant Tirkey; Defenders: Gurmail Singh,     Harbir Singh Sandhu, Gurjinder Singh, Vickram Kant (captain), Vikas Pillay,     Gurinder Singh; Midfielders: S. K. Uthappa (vice-captain), Jasjit Singh, Devinder Sunil Walmiki, Satbir Singh, Harjeet Singh; Forwards: Affan Yousuf, Yuvraj Walmiki, Nithin Thimmaiah, Talwinder Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

New Zealand captain Dean Couzins announces retirement




New Zealand men's hockey captain Dean Couzins has announced his retirement from international hockey after his side lost the bronze medal play-off game against England 2-4 in a penalty shootout after both teams played out a thrilling 3-3 draw.

Couzins – one of the solid fullbacks in the Black Sticks backline – represented his country in three Olympics – 2004, 2008 and 2012. The seasoned defender made his senior international debut in 2001 against Malaysia and made 318 international appearances - he is Black Sticks' second most capped player after Phil Burrows.

The 33-year-old seasoned defender played in four World Cups – 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014 as well as three Commonwealth Games – 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2012 editions.

Couzins will be sorely missed by New Zealand in the 2016 Rio Olympics, where they will bid to corner glory – the only time they won gold was at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

The writer can be contacted at: suhridbarua@gmail.com

India lose 0-4 to Australia, settle for silver



This piece was published in Sportskeeda

India’s hopes of winning its maiden Commonwealth Games hockey gold went up in smoke as a well-oiled Australian outfit thumped them 4-0 in a one-sided final match at the Glasgow National Hockey Center.

The Sardar Singh-led side, which turned in a superb effort to reach the final, had to settle for the silver as his side struggled to match the world champions. To be fair to the Indians, they looked a tad flat, perhaps not recovering adequately from their energy-sapping semifinal against New Zealand as back-to-back matches are never easy and can take a toll on the players. There was no lack of intent from India, but physically they did not seem to be there like the Kookaburras. The biggest solace for the 9th ranked side will be that they made the CWG final ahead of 5th England and 6th ranked New Zealand.

Australia asked quite a few occasions to the Indian defence in the early stages and their persistence paid off when drag-flick expert Chris Ciriello – one of the heroes of their World Cup triumph, including a hat-trick in the final against the Netherlands – fired home a low flick beating PR Sreejesh all ends up.

This was after India muffed their best opportunity to score when Nikkin Thiamiah floundered in the Australian ‘D’ after Ramandeep Singh drilled in a crafty backhanded pass. The Kookaburras forced another short corner in the 20th minute, but Rupinder Pal Singh blunted it down as the first runner.

India bungled a chance to equalize when Vokkaliga Raghunath’s drag-flick off their  first penalty corner was stopped by Kieren Govers on the line.
India paid for not making the most of the scant opportunities when Chris Ciriello converted Australia’s third penalty corner close to half-time, unleashing a low shot that grazed Sreejesh’s stick en route to the Indian goal.

India tried to up the tempo, but a crowded Aussie defence neutralized their raids as the Terry Walsh-coached side trailed 0-2 at half-time. Ciriello pile on the agony of India, completing a hat-trick converting their fourth short corner in the 49th minute. The match was literally sealed in Australia’s favour when Eddie Ockenden tapped home a Kierens Govers pass in the 51st minute.

The winds went out of the Indian sails after that as they seemed resigned to their fate as the Aussies won their fifth successive CWG gold medal.

 The write can be contacted at: suhridbarua@gmail.com                                                     

High-on-confidence India lock horns with world champions Australia

The Indian men’s hockey team will have a tough ask of halting the world champions Australia in their tracks when they meet in the final showdown of the Commonwealth Games being played at the National Hockey Center in Glasgow.

Australia will be a formidable opponent to counter in India’s bid to win their first-ever gold at this multi-sport event, but no one can deny that the Terry Walsh-coached side is playing some superb hockey in the tournament and the soaring confidence of the boys must have led to a belief that they can match Australia.

India will be boosted by the return of regular skipper Sardar Singh, who was suspended for the semifinal tie against New Zealand for unbecoming on-field behavior. The fact that India put it across the Black Sticks 3-2 without the services of Sardar Singh after trailing 0-2 for most part of the first half, must have infused a new-found lift in their game making them feel that they can take on the Kookaburras.

The Australia have lost only one match in the Commonwealth Games – going down 2-3 to South Africa in the inaugural edition in Kuala Lumpur and not just India, even higher ranked teams like England and New Zealand have never beaten Australia at this multi-sport event- just indicates the stranglehold the Kookaburras have on this event.

India’s last win against Australia came at the 2010 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup where they won 4-3. At the Commonwealth Games, India lost thrice to Australia.

The writer can be contacted at: suhridbarua@gmail.com

Saturday, August 2, 2014

9th ranked India come from behind to upset 6th ranked New Zealand 3-2, reach final


This piece was published in Sportskeeda

The excitement the Indian men’s hockey team created when they fought tooth and nail against the world champions Australia before going down narrowly 2-4, paved the way for a ‘feel-good factor’ around hockey circles – the belief that this team can take on the best in the business.


The Terry Walsh-coached side was hit by the ‘early goal’ bug once again after a brief hiatus when experienced Simon Child put New Zealand ahead in the third minute of play after he was set up by Arun Panchia from the right, which saw Indian goalkeeper being embroiled in a collision with Hugo Inglis even as the ball rolled over to Simon Child.

Unperturbed by the early goal, India kept charting their comeback plans, weaving moves from both flanks, but it was the Black Sticks, who doubled the lead through Nick Hay off their second penalty corner.

Down 0-2, India showed little signs of nerves and reduced the margin close to half-time when stand-in captain Rupinder Pal Singh converted a penalty stroke after Dean Couzins was hit on the line off Vokkaliga Raghunath drag-flick off their first short corner.


Trailing 1-2 at hall-time, the onus was on India to call the shots and they precisely did that –  Ramandeep Singh leveling the issue in the 43rd minute after Gurbaj Sinigh drilled in a crafty pass from the right.


The second half belonged to India, who dominated the midfield even without the absence of suspended Sardar Singh. Akashdeep Singh churned out the most important match-clincher with more than twenty minutes left for the final hooter, coming up with a superb reverse flick off a Manpreet Singh from outside the New Zealand ‘D’.


The Black Sticks tried to mount a fightback, but India continued to unleash persistent attacks on their citadel leaving them unsettled. As time wore on, they drafted in Dean Couzins as their kicking back replacing goalie Devon Manchester, but India manfully thwarted all their raids to stage a major upset, closing out a fantastic 3-2 win over 6th ranked side after being 0-2 down at one stage.


India will play the Sunday’s final against Australia, who humbled England 4-1. The final will be a repeat of the 2010 edition when Australia scored a crushing 8-0 win.