The hockey spectacle sparkles with India's thrilling win against Pakistan in the Hockey World Cup opener.
A million hopes soared as India beat Pakistan in the Hero Honda Hockey World Cup on Sunday. Hockey fans have not stopped celebrating and on Monday, when Hyderabadis celebrated Holi - the festival of colours, the Hockey flavour was hard to miss. ‘Well done India', ‘Raring to go' and ‘Cricket can wait… spotlight is now on hockey' ... hockey fans are expressing their delight with SMSes and status messages. The win assumes special significance as it is against Pakistan and comes at a time when India's national sport has been bogged with controversies.
Ask Vishnu, a standard XII student of Kendriya Uppal and a hockey player for his school team if the win was a pleasant surprise, he replies a big ‘No'. “I was quite thrilled but I was not shocked. I was expecting the win as it is a young team and the advantage of playing on the home ground was always there,” he says elatedly and adds, “When the match ended around 9.15 p.m., a group of us got together and cheered till we were exhausted.”
Vishnu is the defender (right back) of his team and lauds the role of Sandeep Singh in the match. Says he, “The forward line of Pakistan is very strong but Sandeep Singh just stood like a wall defending the team,” The youngster calls Sandeep the ‘Great wall' of hockey. “What Rahul Dravid is for cricket, Sandeep Singh is for hockey.”
M. Rekha a student of Nizam Degree College has a different reason to watch the World Cup Hockey matches. “As budding hockey players we have to watch the matches to understand the strategy applied by the Indian team to tackle opponents,” she says. The Commerce student has not been able to practice much but whenever she gets time, she is at the grounds defending the ball and scoring for her team.
The Hockey World Cup has indeed generated a lot of curiosity among people, especially youngsters but the big question is whether the interest will sustain. “People do not understand hockey so they do not watch it. There is lot of difference between hitting, tapping or dragging a ball in hockey,” she says as a matter-of-fact and adds, “The world cup was happening in India but there was not much publicity given to the event. Look at the commercials on television announcing the arrival of Indian Premier League (IPL) and for the hockey world cup, the advertisements are just a few but it is good to see Virendra Sehwag, Priyanka Chopra and Rathod endorsing the game,” she says.
Hockey's loss has always been cricket's gain and experts feel it is the mindless comparisons of hockey players with cricketers which adds fuel to the fire.
“Everyone plays for the country then, why this treatment? Someone like Jagmohan Dalmia or Lalit Modi should take up the reigns of hockey to bring back the glory and develop the game,” suggests former player Mukesh Kumar. And, when India takes on Australia, he hopes the team members will opt for a different kind of strategy.
For now, cricket can take a backseat as the hockey spectacle continues. Hockey lovers are hoping India will pull off a magic and bring back the laurels by winning the cup. Whether India's magic run will continue or not only time will tell. Till then, we are having a prayer on the lips and keeping our fingers crossed!