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Diwali dhamaka

Diwali dhamaka
Highlights

One should give it to Indian hockey players who seem oblivious of the blacklisting of Pakistan cricketers. The hockey mandarins in the country have not boycotted Pakistan as such but have actually chosen to conquer them in a different battle zone with a panache that is as powerfully message oriented as any gun-battle. 

One should give it to Indian hockey players who seem oblivious of the blacklisting of Pakistan cricketers. The hockey mandarins in the country have not boycotted Pakistan as such but have actually chosen to conquer them in a different battle zone with a panache that is as powerfully message oriented as any gun-battle.

Beating Pakistan at its own game and that too twice in succession is what makes the 2016 Asian Champions Trophy title as a special salutation to Diwali. A memorable win it should because India had won the inaugural edition after negating the resurgent Pakistanis in the 2011 summit clash.

This was the dhamaka that has cheered millions of Indians, who take delight in joining in the national celebration whenever an Indian outfit defeats Pakistan, irrespective of the sport.

Interestingly, this was the first instance in hickey history that the arch-rivals were in a Diwali showdown.

However, the conquest was not easily achieved easily as the Indians had to sweat it and bring out their best given that Pakistan payers dug deep into their resources and gave an equal fight before the spark of brilliance by Nikkin Thimmaiah helped India regain the symbol of Asian supremacy.

Till then the verdict could have gone either way. What makes the latest triumph that much sweeter is that this was the first gold Indians were bringing home since the 2014 Asian Games.

In a way, the Indians demonstrated that when the matches are fought on equal terms they tend to be that much superior in ball control and stick-play, the hallmark of a true-blue hockey nation.

It is indeed a matter of absolute delight that in the earlier stages also the players displayed rare character, something that had gone amiss in most international engagements, the Champions Trophy silver, notwithstanding.

Although it is difficult to give credit to any one player, one still has to acknowledge the composure of Sardar Singh, who has been in stellar form since being freed from the burden of captaincy. And, of course, the man of the hour was PR Sreejesh, who was outstanding.

As coach Oltmans has rightly pointed out, the Indian players had to win the title. Despite the favourite tag, Indians could not be expected to have an easy run, something that was evidenced by the gutsy show put up by Pakistan.

However, in the euphoria, Oltmans is going overboard with his praise of the boys. It is one thing to give credit where it is due and quite another to expect the players to perform miracles. It would make sense if caution is used as a preparatory tool and a realisation dawns on the authorities that it was only an Asian achievement.

The standards across Europe and Australia have been so high that the original style of India and Pakistan has been relegated to nothingness. Today, India is not a pre-tournament favourite for the simple reason that Indian can be sublime and outright ridiculous against European opponents in a span of 24 hours. This is where India has to get its arithmetic right.

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