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Updated: March 1, 2010 22:39 IST

Heart-warming show by India

S. Thyagarajan
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DOING HIS REPUTATION NO HARM: Indaia's second choice goalkeeper Sreejesh gave a good account of himself against Pakistan. PHOTO: AFP
PHOTO: AFP DOING HIS REPUTATION NO HARM: Indaia's second choice goalkeeper Sreejesh gave a good account of himself against Pakistan. PHOTO: AFP

The Holi festivities in the capital on Monday had an added aura. India's heart-warming show against Pakistan in the hockey World Cup opener contributed immensely to this.

Truly, it was an excellent performance, especially in the background of the happenings during the last one month, events that gave a new meaning to epithets like chaos, fiasco, incompetence and what not.

Sunday's super demonstration of proficiency, professionalism and perfection in team work more than obliterated the odium of the recent 3-6 reverse against Pakistan in the Champions Challenge at Salta (Argentina).

Many even feel that the outcome erased once and for all the sad day and memories of the 1-7 thrashing in the Asian Games final in 1982.

Distinct change

India's display on Sunday clearly showed a distinct change in style and system. Not that aesthetics has been given up for the sake of a different matrix; but the velocity at which the patterns were threaded touched an emotional chord.

The captivating moves by Rajpal Singh and Prabhjot Singh, matched the work of the strong mid-field cordon manned commendably by Halappa, Sardar and Mahadik.

While no praise is too high for Sandeep Singh, whose two goals sealed the verdict, adequate mention is due to Gurbaj Singh for his timely interceptions and clearances inside the zone and circle.

Eyebrows were raised when Sreejesh was fielded instead of the tested and tried Adrian D'Souza. Actually, it was thought that the latter was injured or indisposed. In the end, nothing of that sort was reported.

The team management asserted that Sreejesh needed to be played. With India dominating in the rival half Sreejesh, had nothing much to do, but the few saves he made underscored his confidence level.

The euphoria generated by the win over Pakistan must be harnessed when the team faces Australia on Tuesday. There is no place even for a hint of complacency.

Shock defeat

The Aussies are smarting under the shock defeat inflicted by England in the opening encounter. It was somewhat surprising to see the Aussies succumbing the way they did despite showing all the signs of authority in the rival area.

The 13 penalty corners forced are clear evidence of this. But it was not Australia's day.

The crowd, perhaps influenced by the attacks on Indian students in Australian cities, clearly was behind the Englishmen throughout.

The Aussies are expected to enter the field on Tuesday with renewed vigour to get back to the winning mode.

Ranked No. 2 in the world and seeking to regain the trophy after 1986, Australia is very much in the comfort zone as far as records are concerned.

Poor record

Of the 87 matches played, India has a mere 15 victories against 57 defeats and 15 drawn games. In World Cups, India has one win and four defeats with a solitary draw.

For India another tense and intense contest is in the offing on Tuesday.

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