Aug 23, 2003

Where there is complaint, there must be praise. India came back to thrash Pakistan in the Champion's Trophy, and they pumped 5 goals back in 20 mins. Highly surprising, but this is one sport where we have consistently dominated our neighbours, and I think the team believes it can always win. Shades of the 1982 showing at the Trophy where present coach Rajinder Singh was involved in another memorable defeat of the rivals, en route to the 3rd spot. We have a chance to match that, for an Aussie gift means that India play Pakistan for the 3rd place tomorrow.

If they don't win, then India would've had another typical tournament, the template for which reads:

* India achieves excellent pre-tournament showing, raising hopes of the Great Hockey Resurgence that the country has been awaiting for 25 years now.

* India then contrives to lose its first match.

* It has to play catch-up, scraping through some of its matches.

* If we have to play Pakistan, we win the encounter.

* We have to await the results of other matches on the last day, huddled with calculator in hand, for a playoff for a decent place: mostly the results do go in our favour.

* We don't win the playoffs, the final blow, leading to recriminations to re-surface that were temporarily suppressed after the Pakistan victory.

* There is a lot of bad blood, usually conducted through the media, spilling over to the airport. Eventually, the coach loses his job. Some senior players may be temporarily sacked too.

Let's see if the old script is called into action this time also.

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