Coincidence is an incredible phenomenon, given how it completely smashes to bits any sort of logic one can apply to proceedings. Attempts can be made to justify things on the basis of facts but sometimes you have to just stand back and wonder. Look at the premise below for instance.“India defeated Belgium 2-1 in the final of the 2016 Junior Hockey World Cup to lift their second ever title after 2001. What is common to both these triumphs? Pakistan not playing in the tournament.“
Goals from Gurjant Singh and Simranjeet Singh were enough to seal India’s win in the final of the 2016 Junior World Cup over Belgium and ensure that the Trophee Roger Danet stayed in Lucknow. It was an amazing evening of hockey in Uttar Pradesh, where the Boys in Blue blew away Belgium with a breathtaking first half performance. Though Belgium got a goal right at the end, the title had already been won by India.On the outset, it might seem to be a fact that can be ignored or just thrown away into the bin. However, it is incredible how history can play a part in the success of a particular team. The first Junior Hockey World Cup was held in 1979 and guess who won the edition played in France? Pakistan. This was the 11th edition of the tournament and Pakistan played in all but two of them – 2001 and 2016 – which were won by India.What makes this coincidence even more incredible is the fact that Pakistan is not a team that usually does not manage to qualify for the Junior Hockey World Cup. Viren Rasquinha, who was a part of the winning Indian team in 2001, recollects Pakistan’s absence from the edition. “I think Pakistan were not able to qualify because they lost in the qualifiers. Only three teams from Asia (India, Malaysia and South Korea) made it to the 2001 edition of the Junior World Cup,” he said.While they did not qualify for the 2001 due to losing in the 3-4th playoffs, the reason in 2016 was logistical. According to the FIH, hockey’s apex body, the team had applied for visa much after the deadline. “Visas had been applied for after the official deadline and no accommodation was confirmed within the set deadlines. Despite a number of correspondence and reminders, the PHF was not able to show that their team would be able to travel to Lucknow for the event which begins in only a few days,” said FIH’s statement.Pakistan, while showing discontent and dismay over their exclusion from the tournament, did a huge favour to their loving neighbours by not playing. Whether or not Pakistan plays in the next edition of Junior Hockey World Cup remains to be seen, but their absence surely proved to be lucky for India.