The chants had started even before the previous game ended. “India, India”, the crowd at the Major Dhyan Chand Hockey Stadium in New Delhi roared in unison as the Indian team ran onto the field. Chak de India was playing on the stadium sound system; people with tricolours painted on their faces sang along. It was, after all, India playing Pakistan in a World Cup hockey game for the first time in 24 years.
That time, in London in 1986, Pakistan had won 3-2. This time was different, right from the start.
India began at a scorching pace, launching wave after wave of attacks at the rival goal. Pakistan defended doughtily until 27 minutes into the game, when India scored its first goal off a penalty corner. Then, with 5 minutes to go in the first half, Pakistan got its first penalty corner. Sohail Abbas’ shot hit the crossbar and went out.
With seconds to go in the first half, India scored its second off another penalty corner. And then yet again in the very first play of the second half.
After that, the chants of “India, India” reached a crescendo, but the tension was gone from the game. The 30-40 off Pakistani supporters from the High Commission in Delhi, who had come with flags and banners, sat slumped.
Pakistan’s run of bad luck continued as they hit the post a second time. India scored yet another off a penalty corner to make it 4-0. For India, penalty corner specialist Sandeep Singh scored two goals, while Shivendra Singh and Prabhjot Singh scored a goal each.
Pakistan eventually got one goal, also off a penalty corner, with 11 minutes to go. The final scoreline: 4-1, India.In 1982, in the Asiad, Pakistan had defeated India 7-1 in the finals at the same venue. Mir Ranjan Negi, the Indian goalkeeper, was called a traitor after that match. His story inspired Chak de India.
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