15 June, 2021

Champions Again?

A slow revival of fortunes raises hopes for the Indian hockey team

Champions Again?

CALL it India's happy hunting ground. Or call it mere coincidence. The fact remains: Indian hockey and Malaysiaseem to be made for each other.

It was at Kuala Lumpur that the nation won the World Cup for the first (and so far only) time exactly 20 years ago. Then in 1991, came the triumph at Ipoh (Malaysia's second city) in the Sultan Azlan Shah competition. Last week that title was regained. And though the six-nation event was no World Cup, it has certainly given a boost to Indian hockey's sagging spirits.

How significant is Kuala Lumpur '95? Coach Vasudevan Bhaskaran, who led India to its last Olympic gold at Moscow in 1980, has already sounded a note of caution. "The victory is a great morale-booster. But it should not go to our heads. Still, after 1980 there is finally a team that can develop into a world-beating combination."

The Indian team wore a different look at Kuala Lumpur with the inclusion of some new faces and some old ones who were making their comeback, notably captain Pargat Singh. Says Bhaskaran: "Wholesale changes were made because...

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