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|October 21, 2001||
India win junior hockey World CupOur Correspondent
India are the men’s junior hockey World champions. They rode on a fine hat-trick by Sydney Olympian Deepak Thakur to convincingly beat Argentina 6-1 in the final and claim the title in the seventh edition of the tournament in Hobart, Australia, on Sunday.
The Tasmanian Hockey Centre was incandescent with joy in scenes of celebration by Indian expatriates as India captain Gagan Ajit Singh and his boys did a victory lap after coming up with a display of crisp, clean and clever hockey that saw them reign supreme.
Germany won the bronze medal after trouncing England 5-1 in an earlier match.
Following the 2-2 draw, when the India and Argentina met in their first match of the second round, much was expected in the final. However, once the Indians established a 3-1 lead by the 44th minute, the result for a foregone conclusion.
On Saturday coach Rajinder Singh had said the key to winning will be early goals, and India will have to get them. Indeed, they got two through Prabjhot Singh and Jugraj Singh, and were two goals up by the 19th minute. That took the sting off the Argentina attack and though they managed to reduce the margin with a goal from Lucas Cammareri in the 43rd minute, there was little they could do to stop the marauding Indian forwards.
India went into lead in 10th minute through a field goal from Prabhjot Singh. The dashing forward did well to trap a cross at the top of the circle and dispatch home in a flash.
With good backing from the midfield, India were all over the Argentina half and scored again nine minute later, this time off a penalty-corner. Their penalty-corner specialist Jugraj Singh’s drag flick was so quick that the entire Argentine defence was rooted to the ground watching the ball travel into the cage.
Argentina had a good chance of pulling a goal back in 27th minute, but Marcelo Del Negro, after dribbling along the perimeter of the circle, hit wide.
That was the best chance the South Americans could come up with in the second session, entirely dominated by the Indians.
Two goals down, Argentina came back strongly after half-time and raised visions of a grand recovery after scoring in the 43rd minute through Lucas Cammareri. Cammareri latched on an excellent cross from the deep right corner of the field and deflected the ball past an unsighted Indian ‘keeper Devesh Chauhan.
But the Indians produced a great counter attack to earn a penalty-corner a minute later. Again Jugraj was on target with his drag flick.
That goal took the fight away from Argentina. Deepak Thakur, the highest goal scorer of the tournament with 10 goals, then went on to perform his ‘trick’. Displaying Oriental artistry of yore, he slammed in three quick field goals in the 53rd, 56th and 59th minutes to complete a memorable triumph for India.
His first goal was a result of fast counter attack between him and Prabhjot. The second was a brilliant individual effort, when he dribbled past a host of defenders from left and essayed a reverse stick shot into goal.
The last goal was an easy finish at the top of the cricle off a pass from Kanwalpreet Singh.
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