India look to shake off burden of history at hockey World Cup
Indian team is toiling hard for the quadrennial tournament to improve upon their woeful track record in the competition.india Updated: Sep 05, 2006 15:10 IST
With the hockey World Cup getting closer by the day, Indian players are toiling hard for the quadrennial tournament in Monchengladbach, Germany, to improve upon their track record in the competition, which has not been much to write home about.
Once considered the superpower of the sport, India's run in the World Cup so far has not been very memorable over the last three decades.
The eight-time Olympic champions won their only World Cup in 1975 beating arch-rivals Pakistan in Kuala Lumpur in the third edition of the event.
Under the captaincy of Ajitpal Singh, the only Indian to lead the country twice in the tournament, the team got the better of Pakistan 2-1 in the final.
Surjeet Singh and Ashok Kumar were the scorers in that memorable final which is India's only success in the elite event.
India's performance in the first two editions had also been pretty commendable.
In the inaugural championship at Barcelona in 1971, they finished third while they were runners-up in the next event in 1973 at Amstelveen.
They have not reached the last four since the victory in 1975. On other occasions, they have occupied the fifth spot twice (1982 and 1994) besides managing sixth (1978) and ninth (1998) places once each.
In the 10 World Cups spanning 35 years, India have hosted the event once in 1982 at Bombay where Pakistan emerged champions beating Germany in the final. The next edition at London was the scene for India's worst ever performance, while Pakistan fared only slightly better.
It was nothing short of an irony that the match for 11th and 12th places that year was fought between the two subcontinent rivals with Pakistan relegating Mohammad Shahid-led India to the last place with a 3-2 victory.
India, who lost all their matches except holding Germany (2-2), who eventually were runners-up, ended below teams like New Zealand, Canada, Argentina and Poland. On the other hand, Pakistan have the best track record in the event.
They have won the cup four times - the most by any country. Save the 1986 debacle, they have never finished below the fifth spot in the tournament.