Forty-six years in the past, on March 15, India lifted the hockey World Cup, their first and solely title thus far.
What made the victory extra particular was the very fact, that they beat Pakistan within the finals 2-1. The win additionally helped India do away with the “chokers” tag, as that they had misplaced to the Netherlands in the identical last two years in the past.
The profitable objective was scored by Ashok Kumar, son of hockey wizard Dhyan Chand. He was a key member of the workforce in 1971 and 1973 the place India ended with a bronze and silver medal respectively. Nevertheless, earlier than the beginning of the match, he was added solely because the 16th man within the squad and his possibilities of taking part in had been very slim.
Subsequently, when he reached Kuala Lumpur he simply stared on the trophy within the glass case for fairly a while. He knew it was now or by no means.
“The defeat in 1973 last nonetheless haunts me, to be sincere, as we misplaced on penalties after the rating remained 2-2 after the additional time,” he recounted to IANS. “In further time, B.P. Govinda missed a penalty stroke in ‘sudden dying’. The Netherlands received 4-2 within the penalties. It was a well-balanced workforce, and the loss was a setback.”
In 1975, India misplaced only one match to Argentina. They beat European powerhouse Germany 3-2 and knocked out hosts Malaysia 3-2 in further time to e-book a last with Pakistan.
“Earlier than the ultimate, the whole workforce went to mandir, masjid, and gurudwara in Kuala Lumpur and prayed. Within the last, when Pakistan took a one objective lead within the 17th minute, a few of our gamers bought disheartened. Surjit Singh equalised within the 44th minute. After which within the 51st minute I scored a objective that turned out to be the match-winning strike.
“India’s 1975 World Cup triumph had created a tehelka (storm) on the time. It makes us really feel pleased with our achievement. March 15, 1975, is certainly a historic day for Indian hockey. Earlier than this win, India had been labelled as a workforce of silver and bronze medallists. With this triumph, we eliminated that label,” he acknowledged.
Upon returning dwelling, the legend himself was ready for him together with the whole metropolis of Jhansi. He was given a hero’s welcome and a three-km route from the station to his home took 4 hours to succeed in.
“Once I reached dwelling, ‘dadu’ (father Dhyan Chand) patted my again in appreciation. It was a uncommon event when he had touched me, since out of sheer respect for him I used to maintain a distance from him. And, anyway, he had by no means inspired us to take up sport as a profession because the rewards had been few and much between, and he had seen all that,” stated Kumar.
Much like Kumar, Ajit Pal Singh carried the burden of the 1973 loss in his coronary heart. He needed to make amends for the sooner loss as life seldom offers a second probability. After scoring seven previous Ghana within the group stage that they had the idea that they’ll beat any workforce within the competitors. Nevertheless, Pakistan is all the time a sophisticated opponent as feelings run excessive towards the neighbours.
“It was a fast-paced match. We had been on the sector, taking part in, so we didn’t realise that. Nevertheless, those that watched the sport advised us that. The Pakistani workforce all the time had a robust ahead line, and that workforce was no exception. We needed to defend properly towards their forwards,” acknowledged Singh.
The 1975 win stays a jewel within the crown for Indian hockey. The gamers had been gifted a scooter following their return to India. However the love and respect that was showered on them surpassed any financial profit.