Thursday, July 31, 2014

Memories of India’s 0-8 defeat to Australia in the 2010 Commonwealth Games final

This piece was published in Sportskeeda

There was a time when the Indian men’s hockey team used to imbibe the knack of inflicting heavy defeats on opponents – the most ‘famous’ being the whopping 24-1 win over USA in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. The highs of Indian hockey were gradually replaced by mediocrity and despair as our national team started getting beaten by lesser nations in international competitions before they began to get a dose of their own medicine (losing by big margins).

Over the years, there have been quite a few occasions when the Indian men’s hockey team were taken to the cleaners. Given the fierce India-Pakistan rivalry hockey fans tend to remember the 7-1 defeat suffered by our team in the final showdown of the 1982 Delhi Asian Games, but nothing will probably beat India’s humiliating 0-8 defeat to Australia in the final of the New Delhi Commonwealth Games – it was in fact, India’s heaviest defeat in international hockey.

The fact that the heavy defeat on October 14, 2010 came in their own backyard left a bitter taste in the mouths of their hockey fans. Former Indian captain Rajpal Singh, who led the national team in the New Delhi Commonwealth Games final against Australia, recalls that big defeat.

“To be honest, we are not prepared to lose by such a huge margin. It is difficult to point out what went wrong that day – it will be unfair to say our defence failed or our goalkeeper played poorly – I thought it was a collective failure of the team.”

Australia did not score any goals in the first fifteen minutes of play before the Kookaburras started the goal-glut through Jason Wilson in the 19th minute and scored three more in the next fifteen minutes to lead 4-0 at half-time and scored four more in the second half.

“We did not concede any goals in the first eighteen minutes before Australia got two goals from Jason Wilson and penalty corner goals from Luke Doerner and Chris Ciriello. We were playing half court press and the match was literally out of our grasp when we trailed 0-4 at half-time,” Rajpal reminisces.

Aussies were surprised with the win

Australia have never lost to India in Commonwealth Games and the 8-0 title win was their fourth win on the trot. Interestingly, India had faced Australia in the league phase of that 2010 CWG and had lost by a 2-5 margin. The big win even surprised the Aussies. “Even the Australian players told us after the match that they were not expecting to win by such a big margin. Australia got about 9-10 scoring chances in that game and they converted eight of them,” remembers Rajpal, who last played for India at the 2011 Asian Champions Trophy in Ordos, China,where he led the national team to glory.

All said and done, that heavy defeat will be always something Indian hockey fans would not like to remember!

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