India managed to survive a major Dutch storm in the closing stages of their final league match in the Champions Trophy. They kept their nerves intact to hold out for a one-all draw that took them into their second successive Champions Trophy hockey final.
India, who have never won the event in its 37-year-long history will meet Australia on Sunday in a repeat clash of 2017 Champions Trophy. A year ago, Australia beat India in a shoot out after being level in regulation time.
In a match where India needed only a draw and the Dutch needed nothing less than a win to earn a berth into the final, the teams played three goalless quarter before both scored one goal each.
The Dutch played the match at a cracking pace, but the young Indians matched that and they were back by a sturdy defense and the unmatchable PR Sreejesh in the goal.
The result sufficed to give India that one valuable point which kept them ahead of the Netherlands to go through to the final.
With this being the last Champions Trophy, it would be quite an irony if India won the Trophy for the first time in its final staging.
But, it will also be a great start to coach Harendra Singh, who after taking the junior team to a World Cup win, will be off to a great beginning with the senior side.
With Australia, who earlier lost their league match to Argentina, not looking as formidable as they usually are, India have a great chance. It will also be a great morale booster for the Indians, who had a disappointing outing in the Commonwealth Games. But they can now go to the crucial Asian Games in August-September with their confidence high.
After three goalless quarters, India scored first through Mandeep Singh early in the final quarter as India won a penalty corner in the 47th minute.
In this entire tournament India has held out well in the matter of nerves and now they need to do it one last time in this event to gain the big prize.