While the eyes of most Indian sports fans followed the travails and tribulations of our cricketers at Lord's, England, a rousing victory was recorded by another Indian team in a smaller stadium in Ordos, China. India beat Pakistan 4-2 in a thrilling final of the inaugural Asian Champions Trophy that may have ended in penalties but could be the start of what can be a resurrection of Indian hockey. When you find a sport hitting the headlines more because of what happens off the ground than on it, you can be sure that something is awry with the whole business. This time, thankfully, the news comes from an astroturf in northern China and is great news about Indians playing great hockey.
The Asian Champions Trophy wasn't a tournament filled with pushovers. The top six teams from the 2010 Asian Games -- India, South Korea, Pakistan, China, Malaysia and Japan - played rapid, wicked hockey that was a roster of one good team playing another. But if the nation didn't go all out in celebrating India's great run that started in September 3 and ended in the final against its arch-rival on September 11, this serves our players well. The pure joy and pride of becoming a champion team in a big-time tournament remains unalloyed by the relatively tepid reaction by the media and general sports fan alike. At the same time, however, this means keeping one's feet on the ground and not playing under impractical expectations in the future.
This Indian hockey team is a young bunch and they have just beaten Pakistan, the 2010 Asian Games hockey gold medal team, to lift a trophy. Credit for winning this match should largely go to goalkeeper S Sreejesh who stopped two penalty shoot-out flicks from Pakistani sticks. Credit for winning the tournament should largely go to new Indian coach Michael Nobbs. There's now a wider world of adversaries out there to face. After the much deserved celebrations, that's where our players who have now tasted blood, should train their sticks.