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Hoping for Indian success at the World Cup...for Ramandeep's sake, if nothing else!

Indian Hockey team practice during the training cap at National Stadium on March 13, 2014 in New Delhi, India
Indian Hockey team practice during the training cap at National Stadium on March 13, 2014 in New Delhi, India

Being one of the last entrants to this World Cup solely due to a serious lack of competition to Australia and New Zealand in the Oceania division of the Champoins Challenge, India now has a golden opportunity to make up for all the previous insipid perfromances for the past 30 odd years.

But will India make the most of this opportunity? That is the million dollar question. In fact, it is the only question as far as Indian hockey is concerned!

What prompted me to resurface on the hockey pages of Sportskeeda to write this article? Well, Ramandeep Singh’s untimely and sad injury yesterday was the catalyst, and the loss to Argentina in the build-up game was the straw that finally broke my indifferent back. For some time now I’ve been ambivalent to India’s hockey fortunes. But these two incidents have once again sparked a desire to support our team...wholeheartedly. And what better way to do that than to drum up the readers’ support, hopefully prompting an outpouring on the vibrant Indian social media? In a cricket frenzied and shortsighted Indian sports diaspora, Indian hockey’s hoped-for resurgence should not go unnoticed, nor unspoken.

So will India be the crown jewel of this World cup? Will the players (who have toiled selflessly for months while we were immersed gluttonously in the IPL and the Indian elections) deliver a fitting repost to Indian hockey and to the fresh hope that the recent elections bring?

India will play against Belgium, England, Spain, Malaysia and finally Australia in their group matches. To make it to the semi-finals, the permutation is easier than you think – three wins, one draw and one loss. Wins against England, Spain and Malaysia; draw against the Belgians and a loss to Australia. This math is based on a few asssumptions. These are that Australia wins all its matches and the Belgians suffer two losses and are held to the one draw against India. Simple.

Not so fast though. We’re talking of a World Cup, the pinnacle of the pyramid, the acme of world hockey. Every team will enter the field with an aim to win, with a determination and resolve next to none. We’ll see matches where world ratings will be totally disrespected, where the David will slay the Goliath and where the brave will overcome brawn. My only hope is that the Indian team does all of this. That it leaves behind the legacy of mediocrity, punches above its weight and contemptuously disregards the august stature of the higher ranked teams.

Terry Walsh – a forward himself – will hopefully have harnessed and honed the superlative attacking flair of the mercurial Indians and Oltmans will hopefully have instilled the European discipline in defense and Jude Felix will hopefully have organized the midfield for pin-point distribution and adroit deflection of attacks. Note that all the hope rests on the three having prepared a brave Indian team to deliver when it counts. It is the Generals who prepare the soldiers for battle. The “battle” is imminent and now it’s time to deliver. In full. No holding back.

India will definitely miss the penetrative power and clinical finishing of Ramandeep. However, his absence and injury could well be the sentiment needed to galvanize a sleeping giant to rise again. Ramandeep may well be responsbile for a good showing in absentia.

Sports has known stranger heroes. The team should deliver to negate his pain and deep anguish at being waylaid at the last hour. Give Ramandeep a rousing “get well mate” cheer!

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