The India-Pakistan match in the men's section of the Lanco International Super Series nine-a-side hockey tournament is more than 24 hours away, but it's been sold out. And if Sukhdev Singh Pandher, a Malaysian born Sikh settled in Perth, is to be believed, the demand for tickets is going up. "I have been flooded with calls, need to make some arrangement," he says as he hurries off to resolve the demand for tickets.
Adolph Abraham, a 72-year-old Indian who grew up in Hyderabad and is settled here, was lucky to pocket four tickets. "I got them a week back. I knew there would be a problem," he said. Rajpal Kapoor, another Indian who lives in the suburb, hasn't been lucky but is hopeful of getting tickets before the match starts. "Whatever the prize, I am ready to shell out," he said.
There is no dearth of supporters for the Indian hockey team in Perth. There are even Australian fans who openly back India.
The Indian national flag is also in demand. An Indian settled here, Gurpreet Kaur, even contacted Indian manager Elna Norman for a tri colour which she and her friends could wave. "We want India to win," she grinned.
India men lose
Indian men were brushed aside 3-6 by New Zealand in their opening match. However, chief coach Michael Nobbs was not unduly worried and described it as a good learning experience. The Kiwis raced 3-0 ahead, and although Danish Mujtaba, Sardar Singh and Ravi Pal found the mark, it proved inadequate.
The Indian women however didn't disappoint, defeating Malaysia 2-1 in their opening game. But the overall performance of the team was nothing great. Most of the players appeared to be leaden footed, indicating that their physical fitness is not up to the mark. The concept of attacking hockey also did not appear to have been drilled into the players.
But in the second match between Australia and Malaysia, the former looked far more impressive as they scored a comfortable 2-1 victory, sending a warning signal to their rivals.
Equally impressive were the Australia in their opening men's match against Pakistan. The home team went 2-1 ahead in the first ten minutes but Pakistan fought back to level 2-2. Australia eventually won 3-2.
(The writer's trip has been sponsored by Commune Sports & Entertainment)