Overturning deficit, Roelant Oltmans’ boys beat Pakistan to claim Asian Champions Trophy after five years.
“An India-Pakistan match is always special and this is a special victory,” India skipper PR Sreejesh, had gushed after India’s thrilling win over Pakistan in the Asian Champions Trophy final. But in a bigger sense, it was not just the triumph or beating the arch-rivals that made the occasion special. It was yet another reminder that under Roelant Oltmans, India are steadily progressing and no longer susceptible to big-match implosions.
On the team’s return late on Monday, coach Roelant Oltmans seemed pleased that things went according to plan . “After a good season we wanted to begin the new cycle on a winning note,” he said.
There was no doubt that India were favourites going into the Asian Champions Trophy, with Pakistan and South Korea not the force they once were and the other teams in fray, including hosts Malaysia, not having enough big guns to put it across Oltmans’s wards. But that doesn’t diminish India’s accomplishment a wee bit, and it was a continuation of the good work under the Dutch coach. Despite the 8th-place finish at the Rio Olympics, Indian hockey has been on an upward curve for the last few years. The team is the best in the continent, and on their day can topple better-ranked sides.