London: The Indians may have finished only second and return with a silver medal, but it was a performance that should fill the team with confidence. The Indians playing the Hero Champions Trophy final for the first time held the World No 1 side to a goalless draw.
India’s Harmanpreet Singh celebrates a goal during the Champions Trophy hockey match vs Great Britain at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London on June 11. Pic/Getty Images
They subsequently lost 1-3 in the shoot-out, but only after a controversial ruling by the umpires.
The protest was settled after more than a hour and a half, forcing the cancellation of a public presentation ceremony. The teams were presented with the medals and trophies indoors.
The bone of contention was Australian Daniel Beale’s attempt, which as per rules should have been completed in eight seconds. The Indians maintained that Beale’s attempt went on for 14 seconds as PR Sreejesh foiled him.
But the Australians claimed an obstruction and strangely the umpire asked for a referral and the third umpire ruled a re-take. Beale scored off it.
Mr Narinder Batra, President of Hockey India, was disappointed at the umpiring. “The umpires have failed. Is this the quality of umpires you post in the final of the Champions Trophy?” asked Batra.
“The shootout attempt went on for over 14 seconds, and then it was re-taken. Just to cover up their shortcomings, they are now pointing out at a different incident. If the goalkeeper had made an infringement, a penalty stroke should have been awarded.”
Later the Jury declared that Sreejesh’s obstruction came in the seventh second but was unintentional and the re-take was justified.
The Jury said the ball had rolled under the goalkeeper’s pads, which was why the re-take was taken. Fortunately, the Indians accepted it graciously.
As for the match itself, the Indians, who lost 2-4 in the Group stage, played aggressively and with great vigour right from the start.
The Australians did earn a bunch of penalty corners, but on this day, goalkeeper, Sreejesh was back to his excellent form. He blocked each attempt and when Australia earned a stroke, Blake Govers shot wide of the target.
The Indian defence with Manpreet, Raghunath and Harmanpreet did a great job and Sreejesh was outstanding. Upfront, SV Sunil, Mandeep and Nikkin Thimmaiah did a fine job, too.