The Indian woman’s national hockey team made their seventh appearance at the World Cup on Saturday. A closer look at the statistics reveals that the team has made its presence felt only seven times at the global tournament held since 1974 and spread across 14 editions, including that of this year.
The Indian players may not be the favourites in the prestigious competition as their last breakthrough performance was 44 years ago in the inaugural edition of the World Cup where they finished fourth.
To add to their woes, it’s also been exactly four decades since they last made it to the final eight of the World Cups. They finished seventh in 1978, 11th in 1983, 12th (last) in 1998 and 11th in 2006 and ninth in 2010.
The figures might not suggest vouching for the Women in Blue, but the team’s significant performances in the last two years give us a glimmer of hope. In 2016, they had qualified for the Summer Olympics after 36 years. The team, however, could not manage even a single win in five games and were eliminated in the group stage.
Having experienced the jitters, the team came back strong after three months at the Women’s Asian Champions Trophy, winning a gold medal, and overpowering hockey giants like China and South Korea.
In 2017, the Indians produced a spirited performance at the Asia Cup. They remained undefeated in the six matches they played and emerged victorious against China in the final. Their quality show in the tournament earned them a direct ticket to the FIH Women’s Hockey World Cup.
The Indian eves finished out of the podium at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games but they made the higher ranking teams sweat it out for a win, which in itself was commendable. They surprised top gun England 2-1 to qualify for the semi-finals and made Australia strive hard for their lone goal victory in the final four matches.
If India manages to replicate this feat at the World Cups, they can do the unimaginable. The Indian women need to put their previous defeats aside and derive confidence from their inspiring performances lately which saw them achieve a career-best ranking of World No.10.
After a fairly good start against England in the opener, India will be next playing the World No.16 Ireland on 26 July, followed by World No.7 U.S.A. on 29 July, in the group stages of the quadrennial event.