Forty-six years in the past, on March 15, India lifted the hockey World Cup, their first and solely title up to now.
What made the victory extra particular was the actual fact, that they beat Pakistan within the finals 2-1. The win additionally helped India eliminate the “chokers” tag, as they’d misplaced to the Netherlands in the identical closing two years in the past.
The profitable aim was scored by Ashok Kumar, son of hockey wizard Dhyan Chand. He was a key member of the crew in 1971 and 1973 the place India ended with a bronze and silver medal respectively. Nonetheless, earlier than the beginning of the match, he was added solely because the sixteenth man within the squad and his possibilities of enjoying had been very slim.
Subsequently, when he reached Kuala Lumpur he simply stared on the trophy within the glass case for fairly a while. He knew it was now or by no means.
“The defeat in 1973 closing nonetheless haunts me, to be trustworthy, as we misplaced on penalties after the rating remained 2-2 after the additional time,” he recounted to IANS. “In additional time, B.P. Govinda missed a penalty stroke in ‘sudden loss of life’. The Netherlands gained 4-2 within the penalties. It was a well-balanced crew, and the loss was a setback.”
In 1975, India misplaced only one match to Argentina. They beat European powerhouse Germany 3-2 and knocked out hosts Malaysia 3-2 in additional time to ebook a closing with Pakistan.
“Earlier than the ultimate, the complete crew went to mandir, masjid, and gurudwara in Kuala Lumpur and prayed. Within the closing, when Pakistan took a one aim lead within the seventeenth minute, a few of our gamers bought disheartened. Surjit Singh equalised within the forty fourth minute. After which within the 51st minute I scored a aim that turned out to be the match-winning strike.
“India’s 1975 World Cup triumph had created a tehelka (storm) on the time. It makes us really feel happy with our achievement. March 15, 1975, is certainly a historic day for Indian hockey. Earlier than this win, India had been labelled as a crew of silver and bronze medallists. With this triumph, we eliminated that label,” he said.
Upon returning house, the legend himself was ready for him together with the complete metropolis of Jhansi. He was given a hero’s welcome and a three-km route from the station to his home took 4 hours to succeed in.
“After I reached house, ‘dadu’ (father Dhyan Chand) patted my again in appreciation. It was a uncommon event when he had touched me, since out of sheer respect for him I used to maintain a distance from him. And, anyway, he had by no means inspired us to take up sport as a profession because the rewards had been few and much between, and he had seen all that,” stated Kumar.
Just like Kumar, Ajit Pal Singh carried the burden of the 1973 loss in his coronary heart. He wished to make amends for the sooner loss as life seldom offers a second probability. After scoring seven previous Ghana within the group stage they’d the assumption that they will beat any crew within the competitors. Nonetheless, Pakistan is at all times an advanced opponent as feelings run excessive towards the neighbours.
“It was a fast-paced match. We had been on the sphere, enjoying, so we didn’t realise that. Nonetheless, those that watched the sport instructed us that. The Pakistani crew at all times had a robust ahead line, and that crew was no exception. We needed to defend effectively towards their forwards,” said Singh.
The 1975 win stays a jewel within the crown for Indian hockey. The gamers had been gifted a scooter following their return to India. However the love and respect that was showered on them surpassed any financial profit.