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Semifinal would be a good result for India: Ashok Kumar

Last Updated: Thursday, February 25, 2010 - 17:56

New Delhi: Member of India`s lone World Cup
winning team Ashok Kumar doesn`t expect miracles from the
current team under Rajpal Singh and feels reaching the
semifinals would be a decent result for them.

"We will have the home advantage and I am hoping that we
can finish at the podium or at least reach the semifinals.
That would be a good result for the country," Ashok told reporters.

Even that would not be a stroll in the park for the
Indian team and Ashok, who scored India`s winning score in the
1975 World Cup final in Kuala Lumpur, said the current team
lacks match-winners and the players themselves lack killer
instinct.

"There are few good players in the current squad, as
compared to our days. We had stalwarts like Ajit Pal Singh, B
P Govinda, Surjeet Singh, Harcharan Singh, myself and many
others who were match-winners. There are not many such players
among the current players," Ashok, son of legendary hockey
player Dhyan Chand, said.

"Moreover, the current players lack the killer instinct.
I don`t know the reason why. It may be due to lack of
emotional attachment of the game in general," he said.
Ashok, who was a member of all the three Indian World Cup
teams which won a bronze (1971), silver (1973) and gold
(1975), said India and Pakistan were unlucky to have to face
each other on the opening day on Sunday.

"I anticipate it would be a great match between India and
Pakistan as it has been always in the past, showing all the
artistry of Asian style of hockey. But it is unfortunate that
they are playing each other in the first match of their pool.”

"Whichever team loses on Sunday, it will be difficult for
them to make it to the semifinals as they have to play
Australia, England and Spain who are strong sides. It would
have been better if India face Pakistan after playing one or
two European sides. I hope India win against Pakistan," he
said.

Ashok, who played for India in four World Cups and two
Olympic Games, felt strongly for revival of hockey ties
between India and Pakistan. He also said that the avid fans of
the game still follow India-Pakistan matches with emotional
attachment.

"Nowadays, the matches between the two countries are few
and far between. In our days it was a huge occasion for the
people of both the countries. Even now the core hockey fans
still follow the matches with the same passion," he said.

Ashok recalled that even after the 1971 war between the
two countries, the Indian players got a warm reception when
they toured Pakistan in 1974.

"It was a wonderful feeling. When we went to Pakistan in
1974 after the bitter 1971 war, we were given a huge reception
there. I realised how much the Indian players were respected
in Pakistan and the passion of the game in that country," he
said.

Ashok also said that there was no bitter feeling among
Pakistani players in Kuala Lumpur after his controversial goal
gave India their only World Cup title in 1975.

In the dying moments of that final match with the two
sides at 1-1, Ashok`s shot hit inside of the post and the
Malaysian referee awarded a goal ruling that ball had crossed
the goal-line and the Pakistanis protested vehemently.

"It was a World Cup final match. The stake was high and
any team would have protested in those circumstances. That is
nothing unusual," said Ashok.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, February 25, 2010 - 17:56
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