Holding the Line

Is Sardara Singh the last of India’s hockey greats?

01 June 2015
Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images
Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images

THE KYOCERA AT THE HAGUE in the Netherlands is not one of hockey’s great venues. A few kilometres before you reach the stadium, it looms up ahead, looking like a warehouse that someone wrapped in tinfoil, with a deep gap cut in the middle. Late in the afternoon on the day of the final of the 2014 Men’s Hockey World Cup, thousands of cars were lined up outside the stadium in neat rows, like colourful planters. But the unmistakable thunder of fans cheering inside was missing; instead, you heard music blaring, interrupted by a man’s voice echoing through the stadium, drawing out the words: “Australia, once again, the world champions!”

It was 15 June 2014, and Australia had beaten—humiliated—the Netherlands 6-1. Some Australian players were running around the pitch, their national flag in hand. Another group was already surrounded by reporters. A few sat on the team bench, taking in their victory, prone to sudden bouts of hugging and back-slapping. It had been one of the most one-sided World Cup finals ever. Dutch fans draped in orange, their team’s colours, sat stunned, long after the final whistle had blown. In the fourteenth minute, they had been leading 1-0; then, “Big Dog” Chris Ciriello scored a hat-trick, and practically ended the game for the Oranje.

Sardara Singh in a junior team match against South Africa in 2005. He made his senior team debut the following year against Pakistan.. ARIF ALI / AFP / Getty Images Sardara Singh in a junior team match against South Africa in 2005. He made his senior team debut the following year against Pakistan.. ARIF ALI / AFP / Getty Images
Sardara Singh in a junior team match against South Africa in 2005. He made his senior team debut the following year against Pakistan.
ARIF ALI / AFP / Getty Images

Sundeep Misra Sundeep Misra has covered seven hockey world cups. He is the head of sports initiatives at Network 1.

Keywords: sport sport in India
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