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When all trees have been cut down, when all animals have been hunted, when all waters are polluted, when all air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money. - Cree Prophecy

Sunday, December 18, 2005

(Antha) Rashtriya Khel!!

Yeah..its about our National game – Hockey! An International tournament!! As mentioned earlier I watched live, 3 matches of the Champions Trophy in the Mayor Radhakrishnan stadium, Chennai!
What an experience..it was simply superb…
To see such passionate crowd following all the matches inspite of nonstop rains was a real treat! The new astro turf at Chennai was a master piece and kudos to J’s govt! The way it was organized, the way the police helped in traffic and arrangements including parking, the crowd behaviour – impressive in toto!

About the games:

The 1st one was India-Pak! The two duddo teams who still think artistry and selfish long dribbles are still the best way to play the game. Hence rightly fighting for the bottom of the table! Really lousy in pace and very slow in movement, no good long passes. It should be said that India with its sluggish movement brought down the Pak’s pace too! That’s why only at the start and just after the break Paks were swift. Just within a few minutes from the start India were leading 2-0 and still managed to lose! So typical, eh?

The south Asian domination in this game is now lost. The way the European teams (yeah I term Aussies too along here) have imbibed this game and the pace they have brought in is amazing. They have really taken this game levels ahead. Slick passes, short and sweet dribbles, terrific fitness, coordination, soccerlike planning are all their contribution. Spain was far ahead of Germany. Surprisingly all the 3 games had one similarity. The team with more ball possession lost!

Aussies played with their typical arrogance and authority. Like in cricket they are numero uno, way ahead of the rest. The rest are left at quite a distance. They are real quick and so u see the whole ground populated with the green and yellow jerseys. One may be forced to think if they are playing with more guys in! Amazing flicks, power plays, sooper passes, excellent finishes, bullet like punches in to the goal during penalty corners…man they look like unstoppable juggernauts, really!

A quick comparison with cricket:

A real fast paced game. (infact during the Germany Vs Spain game and in the finals Australlia Vs Holland it appeared as though the half time hoot was within minutes from the start!) Happily over in 70 mins! With a result that too;-) Believe me! This is turning to be more a gentleman’s game. Of the three matches hardly any foul, only one green card in all, hardly the umpire needs to interfere, outs/fouls never contested, no time lost in any foul calls, with out even any indication from the umpires the right team is ready for the shot, very smooth roll in of substitutes along with the run of play…I can keep writing…smooth, slick, gentle, attractive, interesting – and more..

Comparision with cricket grounds:
Well organized and planned entrances and parking facilities. (yeah, one wud say the crowds are not comparable, still..In my case we were late and the cops asked us to park in a nearby police hospital premises!)
Neat well maintained toilets and drinking water! (yeah..drinking water and that too in Chennai!)
No frisking and no embarrassing displays. So one could happily carry in his own bottle of water and snacks.
Low fares;-)

Three cheers to Chennai (fans):

1. very well behaved fans! Be it during the national anthems or during penalty corners or when ever required/requested, the crowd behavior was impeccable. Infact each team (other than the Indian team) came for a lap around the ground with their hands/bats raised..
2. Even during the India-Pak match, all good shows by either of the teams were well applauded and infact the Pak team went for a victory lap and was well acknowledged by the crowd!
3. Very knowledgeable crowd! It was infact better than what u get to see in cricket matches. Heavy discussions about reverse flicks, missed crosses, penalty corners, guessing complicated fouls even before the umpires call – hmm..fantastic!
4. Inspite of the rains all through the tournament, lots of people came and watched and patronized hockey. Really a matter of pride.
5. Some guy behind me was discussing about John Wright, an umpire from SA to be a good umpire etc! really knowledgeable eh?
6. Finally, one sardar – Inder pal singh, was a great hit of the Chennai crowd! An enthusiastic 64 year young man from Ghaziabad (who apparently goes to all important hockey and football matches all over India) was given a standing ovation. Infact the organizers called him during a break, to the stage and felicitated him for entertaining the Chennai crowds all thru the tournament with his bell and conch sounds and animated chantings! A sweet way to appreciate a great fan and typical of chennaiites, he was given another round of standing ovation.

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