Trip Down Memory Lane

When Pargat Singh led India’s Sensational Fightback Against Germany at 1985 Champions Trophy in Perth

The Indian men’s hockey team had very little to gloat about in the eighties save for the Moscow
Olympics gold medal-winning feat. The Blueshirts struggled to beat top teams even as their arch-
rivals Pakistan were in peak form, having won the 1982 World Cup at Bombay, followed by their
gold medal-winning effort at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. But there was one match at the
1985 Perth Champions Trophy that would gladden the hearts of Indian hockey lovers as well as
current & former players. The India-Germany clash at Perth will be etched in history for being
one of the incredible comebacks staged by the national side in international hockey. The
Mohammed Shahid-captained Indian side had a mixed bag going into the Germany tie – they had
beaten Pakistan 2-1 and lost tamely to Australia 1-4.

Carsten Fischer, fresh from a sizzling hat-trick against Pakistan in the earlier tie, drew first blood
for Germany close to half-time. India came back strongly in the second half, scoring an early goal
via a penalty corner conversion by Syed Jalaluddin Rizvi. Unperturbed by the Indian equaliser,
Germany fired on all cylinders and struck four times in a span of 15 minutes, with Carsten
Fischer completing his second consecutive hat-trick.

With 19 minutes left for the match, no one would have imagined India to roar back into the
match. Even German goalkeeper Tobias Frank, who did not do much in the first half, was kept
busy in the final ten minutes of play as India raided the German citadel with alarming regularity.
The Blueshirts exuded signs of staging a fightback with Mohinder Pal Singh whipping home a
short corner. Skipper Mohammed Shahid, who had a great day in office with his tireless runs,
scored India’s third goal slamming a rebound in a goalmouth melee. The stage was set for Pargat
Singh to orchestrate a goal that would rank as one of the best individual goals ever scored in
international hockey. Receiving the ball close to the half-way line, Pargat darted with zeal and
passion in what turned out to be a brilliant solo effort. The fullback bambozled the German
defence, dodging past four defenders before nonchalantly slotting home. The 68 th minute goal
made the Indians believe that they could at least pull off a draw, if not a win. With four seconds
left, India was awarded a penalty stroke – Joaquim Carvalho converted it to trigger wild
celebrations in the Indian camp even as Germany watched in stunned silence.

Recalling his superb solo run 35 years down the line, former Indian captain and coach Pargat
Singh said he took a call to attempt a solo run as his team-mates were heavily marked. “The solo
run of mine happened because my team-mates were bottled up by the Germans. How often do
you see a fullback rush from his D to an opponent’s ‘D’ – to be honest, I wanted to pass the ball
to my team-mates and when I could not find anyone to pass the ball, I took a solo run, dodged
past four German defenders and scored.”

India’s magnificent fightback was watched by the Pakistan and Australia teams, who were slated
to play the next game at the Perth stadium. “Both Australia and Pakistan were probably thinking
Germany’s 5-1 lead with 19 minutes of play still left, would turn a 6-1, 7-1, or 8-1 scoreline. Our
sensational fightback in the last eight minutes of play stunned them,” quips Pargat.