The Indian men’s hockey team on Sunday made a surprise exit from the cross over stage of the Hockey World Cup, being held in Odisha, after losing 4-5 (3-3) in the penalty shootout against New Zealand. Despite being ahead in the game, India missed the opportunity to build on a 3-1 lead in the third quarter, when New Zealand scored twice in the final quarter to tie the game at the end of the regular time, forcing a penalty shootout. In regular time, India’s goals came from Lalit Upadhyay (17 minutes), Sukhjeet Singh (24 minutes), and Varun Kumar (40 minutes), whereas the Black Sticks’ goals came from Sam Lane (28 minutes), Kane Russell (43 minutes), and Sean Findlay (49 minutes).
India battled back to tie the score at 3-3 in the shootout thanks to a few outstanding saves from seasoned goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, and had two chances in the sudden death as Shamsher Singh missed the final shootout attempt to lose 4-5 in front of the home crowd.
While there was widespread criticism on social media after India’s early exit, Rupinder Pal Singh, part of the Indian team that won bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, has backed the side.
“We win as a team, and we lose as a team. No one person deserves the praise or the blame, ever. Get that absolutely straight in your mind. The ones who are hurt the most at this point are the players who gave it all in the field,” Rupinder Pal Singh wrote in a tweet.
“No player ever wants to lose, it’s a sport, and results don’t always go in our favour. It’s easy to sit back at the comfort of your homes and hurl abuses at those who not too long ago stood on the podium at the biggest stage of them all, Olympics.
We win as a team, and we lose as a team. No one person deserves the praise or the blame, ever. Get that absolutely straight in your mind. The ones who are hurt the most at this point are the players who gave it all in the field. pic.twitter.com/MLFujadmXK
— Rupinder Pal Singh (@rupinderbob3) January 22, 2023
“You came forward to meet, click pictures and celebrate… but don’t want to stand by the team when they are at a low point. The growth of our sport is our collective responsibility. Think before you dare to abuse any single person who wears that tricolour.”
New Zeland will lock horns with defending champions Belgium on January 24 for a berth in the semifinals while India will face Japan on January 26 for the 9th-16th position in the tournament.