The thought of an India-Pakistan hockey match brings back memories of the finals of the 1982 Asian Games. India was the reining Olympic hockey champion having won the gold medal at Moscow 1980, and expectations were high. Pakistan was looking to extend its winning streak at the Asian Games, having lost just the one time in Bangkok 1966.
The 1982 Asiad was the time colour television transmission was just introduced in India. Bangalore had just got its own Doordarshan Kendra, and with it we were able to watch the games in colour! With TV in Bangalore having been introduced just a year earlier, we had a B&W television set at home, but still, there were places we could go to, to catch the scenes in brilliant colour.
Those were the days of Zafar Iqbal and Md Shahid, the Indian stars. The Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had made it a point to be at the stadium to watch the match. The pressure on the team must have been high, just as it must have been today. Memories of the match are sufficient to recall that India took the lead early in the first half, and then something happened. Goalkeeper Ranjan Negi let in 7 goals! By default, he was the one held responsible for a humiliating defeat at the hands of the greens. I don’t remember who scored the Indian goal, but I remember Negi.
The last many years gone by, I’ve never followed a games like this one at Incheon. India had already faced Pakistan in the tournament and had lost, and was not the favourite for today’s match. After watching the heart-breaking India-Japan quarter-final volleyball match yesterday (India narrowly lost in the 5th set), I had decided not to watch this match. I’d see the results once and for all. My sons felt the same way. So we did other things amongst sneak peeks of the match. We didn’t see the goals being scored. At one point the score read 1-1, which continued for an extended period of time. When we had the courage to check again, the penalty shoot-out was on. Pakistan had missed one goal and India was 2-1 up. The present format of shoot-out, a one-on-one with the goalkeeper is much more challenging than the penalty shots of earlier days. It really was exciting. So glad we watched it live. Couldn’t help but cheer the Indian victory! And took some pics off the television to keep this memory alive. It will replace the 1982 games for sure!