On this day: Pakistan ends India's golden run at Olympics

India’s gold winning streak in hockey came to an end in the 1960 Rome Olympics when it lost to Pakistan 1-0 in the final.

The captains of the medal winning hockey team take the podium on September 9 at the 1960 Rome Olympics. In the centre is Pakistan's Abdul Hamid, Leslie Claudius (left) of India and on the right is Santos Dualde of Spain.   -  The Hindu Archives

After wearing the Olympic hockey crown from 1928 when the game was re-introduced in the Olympic programme, India surrendered the title today to her neighbour Pakistan losing by the narrowest of margins. The result once again proved that no country or no person could hold the championship in any sport for a long time, and India perhaps had a record in hockey, having won this title six times in succession. Now every effort should be made to regain the title in Tokyo in 1964.

Pakistan truly deserved their win, though at one stage, if only Jaswant had utilised the chance that came his way in the first four minutes of play instead of shooting wide, we might have been one up, which would have made all the difference.

On the run of play, one felt that whichever team scored first would be the victors, and that proved true. In the twelfth minute, the Pakistan outside-right Noor Alam ran through and centred beautifully to Naseer, who five yards away from the goal neatly shot in to give Pakistan the lead. Pakistan continued to attack, and our defence failed to cope with their pace. Moreover, our forwards were haphazard in their movements and did not do one thing right

Early in the second half, the umpire at the grandstand end, made a serious blunder in not applying the advantage rule properly twice in rapid succession. In the third minute, Jaswant ran through and he was fouled outside the penalty circle Jaswant might have scored, but the umpire pulled up the Pakistan defender for foul. Two minutes later, Claudius ran through and here again the umpire gave a free hit for foul against Claudius, ignoring the advantage rule.

 

WASTED CHANCES

The first short corner of the match came twenty minutes from close in favour of Pakistan. India had a short corner ten minutes later but no luck there. Prithipal Singh took a beautiful shot which the Pakistan goal-keeper half cleared; Peter, facing India's own goal, got possession of the ball and quickly turned around, but shot wide. India had the best chance of the match in the next minute when Peter centred to Jaswant. The latter in turn sent it to Bhola, whose backflick saw the ball going just wide of the goal.

In the last ten minutes of play Pakistan adopted hit and run tactics with the object of killing time. They also resorted to robust tactics. However, they combined better and played more purposeful hockey, hitting hard and without believing in defensive play, which they adopted only towards the end.

Except Prithipal, who was outstanding for India, none deserved any mention, although in the attack Bhola did all that he could, but received little assistance from his colleagues. The attacking line between Jaswant and Peter failed. Udham, who had been brilliant throughout the tournament, was caught in two minds.

Though Pakistan played well in the earlier matches of the tournament, but they reserved their best performance for this final encounter. Their speed and strategy of their hall-back line saw Pakistan forwards run all over the Indian circle in first ten minutes and it was a miracle that they did not score even a single goal in this period when the whole Indian team was on the defensive. Pakistan's three brilliant forwards Nasser Ahmed, Abdul Hamid and Noor Alam and their half-back line consisting of Ghulam Easul, Anwar and Habih Ali made the biggest contribution to Pakistan's victory.

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The match was won by Pakistan's superior half-back line which not only gave full support to their forwards, but kept India's attack at bay, especially in the last ten minutes when India went all out for the equaliser.

Thus Pakistan won their first Olympic gold medal after reaching the final only for the second time. Although they first participated in the Olympic Games in 1948. In London, they reached the final only at Melbourne four years ago. The result at Melbourne was also one goal to nil but in India's favour. Pakistan got the better of India at the Asian Games in 1958 at Tokyo, where they won the championship on goal average after the final between the two countries had ended in a goalless draw.

(This article was first published in The Hindu on Sept. 9, 1960)

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