What’s the story?
India created history by recording their biggest-ever win against Pakistan (7-1) at the ongoing Hockey World League semifinals. However, just hours before the match, SV Sunil, the star forward who was named the Asian Hockey Player of the Year earlier in 2017, was told that his brother-in-law Ganesh Acharya had passed away.
This was the second time Sunil was given such news. In April, during the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, his father had passed away and the 28-year-old had to battle his emotions to represent his country.
Speaking after the win over Pakistan on Sunday to Times of India, Sunil said, "God is testing me many ways. Last time my father, this time my brother-in-law. I don't know what to say. After the tournament, I will be back to my hometown."
In case you didn’t know...
India’s biggest margin of victory against Pakistan had earlier been 7-4 – a scoreline they managed in the 2003 Champions Trophy as well as the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Since 2010, India have won 13 out of 28 encounters against their bitter rivals on the hockey field, with seven matches ending in draws.
The heart of the matter
The man from Kodagu was born in a poor family and lost his mother at the age of four. As a kid, he used to play hockey with the help of bamboo sticks. Sunil made his debut for India in 2007 during their successful run at the Asia Cup in Chennai and was a key member of the Indian team that won silver at the 2016 FIH Champions Trophy in London. He was also a part of the Indian team that won the gold medal at the 2014 Asian Games and bronze at the 2015 World League Final.
After his father passed away, he went on to play for India in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and helped the team finish 3rd in the tournament.
In the 7-1 win over Pakistan, Sunil had a great outing, facilitating the attack to set up Talwinder Singh's goal in the first quarter. His solid performance came after heartbreaking news of his brother’s death following a long battle with illness
He previously had scored the opening goal and had delivered another amazing performance in India’s 3-0 win over Canada on Saturday.
Sunil who recently won his 200th international cap will be one of the favourites to be named in the Indian side that will take part in the Hockey World League Final in Bhubhaneshwar, scheduled to begin in December. He has faced adversity throughout his life and will hope to continue delivering fine performances for the country and make his family proud.
Playing through such adversity shows the character and the heart of an individual and SV Sunil proved that by delivering an outstanding performance against arch-rivals Pakistan in an important match. On a day that saw the ICC Champions Trophy Final overshadow the hockey match, Sunil and the India Men’s Hockey team provided Indians with an achievement to be proud of.Published 20 Jun 2017, 16:06 IST