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40 years on, India’s World Cup victory in hockey a forgotten feat

No function, no awards, no felicitations have been organised anywhere in the country either at the government or at the private level to celebrate the occasion. Incidentally, India will host the hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar in 2018.

Interestingly, the person who scored the winning goal to defeat Pakistan by 2-1 was a player from Bengal. He then used to play for Mohun Bagan and was Dhyan Chand’s son.

It was March 15, 1975, when India faced Pakistan in the finals in the third World Cup held in Kuala Lumpur. Surjit Singh, the famous penalty corner expert, scored a goal and the winning one was scored by Ashok Kumar. Kumar was famous for dribbling and the spectators were charmed by his exquisite stick work. The captain was Ajit Pal Singh, the famous centre-half. There were players like Aslam Sher Khan, Govinda, Philips, Ashok Kumar Dhawan and Lesli Fernandes. The team was given a red carpet welcome in Delhi.

The Hockey World Cup started in 1971 in Pakistan. But the venue had to shift to Barcelona as war broke out between India and Pakistan. India lost 2-1 against Pakistan. In I973, the venue was Netherlands and India lost to the host nation in a penalty shootout.

In 1975, India was placed in Group B with Australia, England, West Germany, Argentina and Ghana. India drew with Australia on March 7. However, India topped the list with seven points (3 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss).

However, things have changed over the years. Due to lack of sponsors, the game has slowly taken a backseat. Schools in Kolkata like St Lawrence, St Xavier’s, Don Bosco and Khalsa School used to participate in tournaments. In Anglo Indian schools, playing hockey was compulsory. But now, the game hardly attracts sport lovers and most of them have forgotten India’s heroic victory that created history.
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