When did India last beat the Netherlands in a hockey match? Way back in 1995 in the Olympic qualifiers at Barcelona! Since then the Dutch have dominated India, the Asian giants at best managing some fighting draws.
On Monday, in the final of the Punjab Gold Cup, stand-in coach Harendra Singh and his boys will attempt to end this winless streak of 13 long years against a Holland team that is unbeaten in the tournament. India and the Netherlands met twice in the double round-robin league and the matches ended 4-4 and 2-2.
Trying to overcome such historical odds will not be easy, more so as India is rebuilding their team after the disastrous results of 2006 Doha Asian Games and 2008 Olympic qualifier in Chile.
It would also be tough task for Harendra's boys because the Dutch have been in good form thus far, excelling both in attack and defense.
However, the Indians will take heart from the fact that Holland too is rebuilding their team and have struggled to put their best foot forward. They will also be without some senior players.
"At the start of the tournament, my aim was to reach the final," Harendra said. "Now that we have done that, I have reset the target and want to win it."
"It will be a good opportunity for us tomorrow to send a loud message to everyone that Indian hockey is still alive and has the ability to beat any top team."
India have shown defensive fragility. They have leaked 12 goals and conceded 27 penalty corners in six matches. The coach however tried to play down the problem.
"I agree that there have been lapses in defense - it is not that our opponent have earned penalty corners, rather we conceded them. We are working on this and hopefully tomorrow we will have more coordination in defense," he said.
The coach did not give much importance to Holland's 7-1 win against Germany, though his counterpart will take lot of heart from that outing. They have scored 23 goals in six matches - the maximum by any team. India has managed only 15. "We played a very good game against Germany and it will surely help my boys in the final," Holland coach Michel V D Heuvel said. "Our strength is attacking hockey, we’ll stick to it in the final too," he added.