Blast from the Past: When Hockey India beat Pakistan to clinch its only Champions Trophy medal in 1982
London will be witness to an epic India vs Australia battle today as the top two teams of the FIH 2016 Men's Champions Trophy will play for gold at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.
Three decades ago, in the summer of 1982, India clinched a bronze in the showpiece event of the International Hockey Federation. It was the first and only podium finish for India in the showpiece event of the International Hockey Federation. Since then, they have missed the bronze on seven occasions, the latest being the 2-1 loss to Australia in Bhubaneswar.
Now, India will look to better their 1982 Amsterdam bronze-medal finish and grab the coveted gold medal which has eluded them since the inception of the tournament.
Back then, the Champions Trophy followed a round-robin format where each team used to play all the other teams. The team defeated Soviet Union 4-2 in the first game and got the better of tough rivals Germany 3-2 in the second game. A subsequent loss to Netherlands in the third game meant they had to win against Pakistan.
Captain Zafar Iqbal and his team chose that moment to produce one of the best matches of Indian hockey history. 3-0 down at the first half, India bounced back brilliantly, courtesy three well-taken penalty corners.
Touted as one of the best penalty-corner specialists in the world, Rajinder Singh Sr scored a hat-trick to lead India's surge. But in this topsy-turvy clash, Pakistan went ahead again within minutes again. In no time, India was breathing down Pakistan’s neck and Gurmail Singh converted a penalty stroke to make the score 4-4.
Just before the final hooter came a goal from Zafar Iqbal that not only ensured a 5-4 scoreline in favour of India but also etched this team's name in the game's history for scripting a remarkable comeback. Although they lost to Australia in the last league game, an impressive performance throughout the tournament helped India finish third in the table.
Under the esteemed captaincy of star goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, the current team will be looking to end the gold medal drought that has haunted the squad for 35 editions. Considering the dangerously unpredictable nature of Roelant Oltmans' team, we should expect the unexpected today.