It is the Pakistani cricketers who are supposed to be erratic and unpredictable, disappointing one day and enthralling the next. But this time the Pakistan hockey team seems to be following a similar path at the 2010 Hockey World Cup now underway in India.
On the opening day of the tournament, Pakistan had lost decisively to hosts and arch-rivals India 4-1. Although neither country is today the hockey powerhouse it once was, Pakistan was totally overwhelmed by India. Placed in a pool that also has favorites Australia, Olympic silver-medalists Spain and England, this would have ordinarily have meant that Pakistan’s chances for a semi-final slot had nearly vanished entirely.
This, however, was not to be.
First, England pulled a stunning surprise 3-2 victory against Australia and then, in what is probably a bigger surprise, Pakistan edged out a 2-1 victory against Spain. Meanwhile, Australia has come back with a vengeance beating hosts India 5-2 in their second game.
Put together, all of this means that Pakistan is still very much in the game.
It means that, but really not much more than that. There is much more to go and none of this changes who the favorites are or the fact that the odds are still against Pakistan making it to the semi-finals, let alone winning the tournament. What it does mean is that we remain in the game, at least until our next encounter – with England on Thursday.
P.S… for those yearning for Pakistan’s glory days in hockey, may we recommend this past post on Abdul Waheed Khan; and for those who recall how the beginning of the end felt like, we strongly recommend this hockey humor video from Khalid Abbas Dar and friends – a performance that I had originally described as “the funniest hockey humor ever!”