India leaps to fifth spot

From a disappointing 12th place finish in London four years ago to breaking into the top-five at the same venue, it has been a tour of redemption for the team.

The Indian men's team is now ranked ahead of the likes of Belgium, Argentina and New Zealand.   -  Getty Images

A historic silver medal was not the only positive takeaway for the Indian men’s hockey team from the recent Champions Trophy in London.

With a revamped rankings system and the elimination of points from past editions, the Indian team has leapfrogged to fifth in the world, ahead of the likes of Belgium, Argentina and New Zealand.

From a disappointing 12th place finish in London four years ago to breaking into the top-five at the same venue, it has been a tour of redemption for the team. India now has 1689 points at the conclusion of the Champions Trophy, 56 points ahead of sixth-placed Belgium (1633) and just eight away from Great Britain (1697) on fourth.

This is the first time in more than a decade that the Indian team has made it to the top five in world rankings since the International Hockey Federation (FIH) started the system in 2003. India was previously ranked fifth in 2004, the only time it managed to break into the top five but since then, it has been a downward slide.

“We are happy to be among the top-five in the world and if the team does reasonably well at the Olympics — which we all hope for and are confident of achieving — then the rankings can improve even further. It was a disappointing outing in 2012 but the points from the previous Olympics would be removed when the rankings are revised after Rio. It is added motivation for the boys,” agreed Hockey India president Narinder Batra.

According to clarifications received from the International Hockey Federation (FIH), points from the 2012 Champions Trophy would be removed while those from the 2014 edition would be given 50 per cent weightage. Also, “the points have changed for this edition of the CT. They are now 200, 160, 130, 100, 70 and 40 (for teams finishing first and so on),” the FIH clarified in a mail to Sportstar.

Australia (2361) has retained the top spot followed by the Netherlands despite the latter not participating in the CT as the top four teams retained their spots with Germany and Great Britain completing the line-up. India is also the highest ranked Asian side with Korea next at ninth spot.

India reached its maiden final in the elite six-nation tournament but lost to World champion Australia in a controversial shootout after the teams were tied goalless in regulation time. The official rankings would be released by the FIH next week after the conclusion of the women's event.