It took 49 years for the Indian men's hockey team to reach the semi final of the Olympics. It was back in the 1972 Munich Games, where India had finished with a bronze medal when they entered the semis for the last time and were beaten by their old foes Pakistan by 0-2.
However, one cannot forget that a U.S.-led boycott marred the 1980 Moscow Games over the Russian presence in Afghanistan. As such, men's hockey had just six teams with the medallists of the previous Games — New Zealand, Australia, and Pakistan, besides European powerhouses West Germany and Holland — remaining absent. Thus, a gold medal for India was a foregone conclusion.
But today has to be one of the most special days for Indian hockey in the last four decades. No, the Indian hockey team does not have the icons in its arsenal like a Dhanraj Pillay or a Sandeep Singh, who, despite their global popularity, were unsuccessful in delivering a desired result at the Olympics. Sardar Singh had an unceremonious departure in 2018.
Manpreet Singh's men are a unit where different heroes have risen to occasions to deliver for the team whenever they have been needed. Today, a combined unit played together to show why the Indian team are in the top-3 positions of the world.
Dilpreet Singh, Gurjant Singh and Hardik Singh rose to the occasion to deliver a historic 3-1 victory over Great Britain. A solid composure in the midfield with the right coordination of passes between the defence and forward have led to this resounding success. Like any other day, goalkeeper Sreejesh has been the rightful custodian for the Men in Blue.
In their most recent tour of Europe in March this year, India had faced off with Great Britain in two games where they drew 1-1 in the first game and beat Great Britain 3-2 in the second.
The Indian team, who were ousted in the 2018 Hockey World Cup quarter final, saw a resurgence slowly rising the ranking ladder and strengthening their game. The Indian men's hockey team showed promise in their run-up to the Tokyo Olympics in the last couple of years.
Despite a season marred by the coronavirus, the team has displayed immense resilience playing with the other top teams in the world.
Barring the disappointment against Australia (1-7) in their second game in the Pool A matches in the Olympics, India did well to finish second in their pool with substantial wins against New Zealand (3-2), Spain (3-0), Argentina (3-1) and Japan (5-3).the
Now a resounding success against Great Britain has again kept us waiting with bated breath — will the Indian team win a medal at the Olympics after 41 years?
Even if it fails to do so, their credibility cannot be taken by an inch as a run-up to the Semi final after 41 years has given us enough reason to cherish. Graham Reid's men will now be aiming to avenge their 2018 Hockey World Cup quarterfinal defeat against the World Cup winners Belgium, and going by their recent form, an entry into the final can be so would be the biggest shot in the arm moment for India.