1981-1982 BOMBAY (Dec. 29-Jan. 12)

By M. M. SOMAYA

(Winner: Pakistan; Runner-up: West Germany; Third place: Australia.

India: 5th)

Being the last major international tournament to be played on grass, we were keen to do well. In the same pool as Holland and Australia, we were confident of making it to the semifinals. We had a formidable forward line consisting of Mohd. Shahid, Zafar Iqbal, Merwyn Fernandes and M. K. Kaushik. Skipper Surjit Singh and penalty corner ace Rajinder Singh (Sr) were strong in the defence.

The important matches were played at the Wankhede Stadium. The two crunch matches eventually proved our undoing. We started well against Holland and built a 2-0 lead with Kaushik scoring a beauty. But the Dutch, with stars like Ties Kruize, Paul Litjens, Tim Steens and Tom Van’t Hek came back strongly to beat us 3-2. Van’t Hek’s goal — he intercepted goalkeeper Negi’s clearance from the top of the circle and scooped over him in one motion — was a beauty. In the last league match against Australia, led by Ric Charlesworth and with stars such as Trevor Smith, David Bell and Terry Walsh, we again took the lead. Though Australia equalised, we were doing well till late in the second half when we conceded a goal. This put us out of the tournament. Inside-left Hazelhurst weaved into the circle between Rajinder and me. Since he was going to the baseline and the angle was narrow, neither I nor Rajinder tackled him for fear of conceding a penalty corner. After reaching the baseline he made a feeble push towards goal, more in desperation, and to our dismay, the ball trickled in. A last minute penalty corner conversion by Rajinder was disallowed for undercutting and that was the end of our dream.

Stamping its class... the Pakistan team led by Akhtar Rasool (standing, second from right).-THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

Pakistan stamped its class with a convincing 3-1 win in the final. Its superiority was such that in the final the Pakistanis even suggested to the umpire that a goal awarded be revoked as it was disputed by the Germans! Pakistan could well afford that sporting gesture since it had in its ranks a lethal front line consisting of Kalimullah, Manzoor (Jr), Hassan Sardar, Hanif Khan and Saeed Khan. Akhtar Rasool at center-half and Manzoor (Sr) in defence were the other stalwarts.

A fifth place finish was poor consolation for us. The silver lining though was Rajinder emerging the top scorer of the tournament, ahead of stars like Litjens, Charlesworth, Hassan Sardar and Michael Peter.

(As told to Nandakumar Marar)