NAGPUR: Great Britain did India a huge favour late on Thursday night, allowing the latter to reach their maiden Champions Trophy hockey final. Having rallied superbly from 1-3 down to hold Belgium 3-3 in their last league game in London, the home team allowed India to finish second after the league stage and take on mighty Australia in the title clash of the six-nation tournament.
This will be India’s first ever Champions Trophy final after winning a bronze medal way back in Netherlands in the 1982 event.
Despite a 2-4 defeat against Australia in their last game early in the day, the Indian men’s team finished second with seven points. With two wins, two defeats and a draw, India collected seven points behind Australia at the second spot to not only set up a summit clash but also a chance to avenge their league stage defeat against the Kookaburras on Friday night.
After India went down fighting 2-4 against Australia, Britain needed a win to make their way into the final while Belgium were required to topple the home team by a considerable margin if they were to go ahead. An exciting draw between Britain and Belgium, however, assured India of a best ever placing in the Champions Trophy.
Having missed out a spot in the final, Britain captain Barry Middletom, however, regretted a slow start for the 3-3 draw against Belgium.
With this disappointing draw, Britain collected 5 points to finish third after one win, a defeat and two draws while Belgium came fourth garnering four points. The inform and unbeaten Australian team took 10 points from their four league games after three wins and a draw.
In their maiden final appearance this exciting bunch of India players will be required to play their hearts out against the seasoned campaigners from Australia. The title clash is scheduled to be played late on Friday night.