India's first match in the Champions Trophy, Amsterdam, 2003 was against the powerful team, Holland and Dhanraj and the other Indian players were confident of having a good start in the tournament. Holland was the defending champions in the tournament and they were also the hosts of the tournament. India got a good start in the match against Holland, as they successfully kept the Dutch midfielders and strikers out of the Indian striking circle in the first few minutes. Dhanraj Pillay and the other Indian strikers were also making some good moves through the Dutch defence, with an aim to get the first lead in the match. The first half of the match remained goalless and Dhanraj Pillay started to turn things on India's way in the second half. Dhanraj, along with Deepak Thakur made some wonderful attacks on the Dutch defence to put pressure on them and India got the first lead in the 44th minute. Jugraj Singh scored the goal from a penalty corner for providing India a 1-0 lead in the match.
Dhanraj Pillay soon made a majestic move through the Dutch defence. He picked up a loose ball in the midfield in the 52nd minute and then went past two Dutch midfielders, with amazing burst of acceleration. He popped up in the Dutch striking circle in no time and angled the ball perfectly for Deepak Thakur on the right to send the ball into the Dutch net. India was leading Holland by 2-0 and Gagan Ajit Singh increased the lead to 3-0 in the 62nd minute. Gagan scored the goal from a wonderful pass from Deepak Thakur. There were only 7 minutes left in the match and just when everyone thought that India was winning the match comfortably, Holland came back into the match. Holland scored their first goal in the 64th minute of the match to reduce the lead to 3-1 and then scored another goal within another 2 minutes. Then, a lack on behalf of Indian defence allowed Holland to score the equaliser in the ending part of the match. India's sorrows in the match were not over till then, as Dhanraj Pillay got a yellow card while arguing with the umpire. India reduced to 10 men after Dhanraj got the yellow card and Holland took advantage of the situation to score their fourth goal, only 45 seconds before the end of play. India eventually lost the match 4-3 to Holland.
Very much disappointed with their performance in the first match against Holland, the Indian team faced Germany in the second match of the Champions Trophy, Amsterdam, 2003. The Indian team did well to beat the German team 3-2 in the match, though they had a tough time in the match. Dhanraj Pillay played well in this match also and led the team to the hardly earned victory. India conceded a goal in the first half of the match and was trailing by 0-1 at the half time. Gagan Ajit Singh scored the equaliser for India in the beginning of the second half and then again conceded a goal to trail by 1-2. However, Prabhjot Singh scored the equaliser for India and Gagan Ajit Singh sealed the final margin 3-2, by scoring a goal from Baljit Singh Dhillon's pass.
The third match for India in the Champions Trophy, Amsterdam, 2003 was against Australia. India showed miserable performance in this match also and in spite of getting some good chances, India lost the match by a huge margin of 4-1. Dhanraj Pillay and all the other Indian strikers failed to convert the chances into goals in the match and as the Australian team did their job perfectly, they won the match quite comfortably. Australia got the lead in the 32nd minute of the match and went on to break with a lead of 1-0. The failure of Indian defence helped Australia to score another two goals in the beginning of the second half and India was trailing by 3-0, at a point. However, Dilip Tirkey scored the only goal for India from a penalty corner to reduce the margin to 1-3. Then, Australia scored another goal in the ending part of the match and eventually clinched a victory of 4-1 over India. Dhanraj Pillay and his teammates miserably failed to put on pressure on the Australian defence in this match and that surely helped the Australia team to clinch such a comfortable win.
India then played against Argentina in the next match of the Champions Trophy, Amsterdam, 2003 and India's sufferings continued in this match, as well. The same problem of the Indian players' failing to convert chances into goals troubled India in this match also. On the other hand, the Argentinean players utilised the chances that they got in the match and scored 4 goals to clinch a 4-2 victory. Dhanraj Pillay and his teammates were not looking to be in form at all and as a result, they faced the third defeat in the tournament.
After facing 3 defeats against Holland, Australia and Argentina, the Indian players were having serious problems with their confidence level, before their next match against Pakistan. It was their fifth match in the Champions Trophy, Amsterdam, 2003 and Dhanraj Pillay encouraged his teammates to show a good performance against their arch rivals Pakistan in the match. The match started on a low note for Indians, as India was trailing by 3-2 in the first half, after conceding goals due to lapse in their defence. Pakistan started the match on an attacking note and got their first goal in the 18th minute. However, the Indians were also making some good moves through the Pakistan defence and Dhanraj Pillay and Baljit Dhillon were taking the most of the initiatives. The Pakistan team continued attacking on the Indian defence in tandem and scored their second goal within a few minutes. Trailing by 0-2, Dhanraj Pillay and his teammates were striving to make a come back and as a result, India scored its first goal in the 24th minute through Jugraj Singh's stick. Pakistan then again increased the lead to 3-1 by scoring a brilliant goal in the 28th minute. However, India again reduced the margin to 2-3 in the last minute of the first half, when Jugraj Singh again scored from a penalty corner.
Trailing by 2-3 after the first half, Dhanraj Pillay and the other Indian strikers got into an attacking mode in the second half. Dhanraj was showing his skills during the period, though Pakistan scored their fourth goal in the 38th minute, against the flow of the match. When, Gagan Ajit Singh came on field after Pakistan's fourth goal, Dhanraj Pillay and his teammates suddenly started to attack more on the Pakistani defence. India scored its third goal in the 51st minute, when Deepak Thakur sent the ball to the net, after getting it from Baljit Dhillon. The margin was reduced to 3-4 and India increased the speed of attacking on the Pakistan defence. Then, Prabhjot Singh scored India's fourth goal in the 54th minute from Deepak Thakur's pass and leveled the score 4-4. The excitement was building among the Indian players and Dhanraj Pillay started to make his trademark runs through Pakistan defence at that time. It was Prabhjot Singh who gave India the much awaited lead in the match, by scoring a brilliant goal, just 10 minutes before the end of the match.
Then, Dhanraj Pillay made a superb move from the midfield and he started to run through the Pakistan defence, after picking up a pass from the defence. He went through the middle and sent a pass to the unmarked Gagan Ajit Singh to go past three defenders and score the 6th goal for India, with just 7 minutes to go before the end. India was leading 6-4 at that point and Dhanraj Pillay and his teammates were still attacking on the Pakistanis. Dhanraj again made a wonderful move in the next minute through the midfield and gave the ball to Prabhjot Singh, after having a quick run. Prabhjot gave it to Deepak and he did well to send the ball to the Pakistani goalpost, to score the 7th goal for India. The Indian team eventually clinched the historic match by a wonderful margin of 7-4 and it was definitely one of the best victories in the history of Indian Hockey. Dhanraj Pillay was very happy after the match, as he and his teammates played just superbly to thrash Pakistan by such a huge margin.
India was very much confident after beating Pakistan 7-4 and the team was also determined of a good show in their next match against the same opponent, Pakistan. The match was fore deciding the winner of the bronze medal in the Champions Trophy, Amsterdam, 2003 and India again got a good start in the match. After Dhanraj Pillay and his teammates made some wonderful moves through the Pakistani defence, the Indian team took the lead in the 25th minute of the match. Jugraj Singh scored the first goal for India in the match from a penalty corner. Dhanraj Pillay continued showing good control over the midfield after the goal and he also made some good chances of scoring goals, though the chances were not converted into goals. Pakistan got their first goal in the 31st minute and leveled the score 1-1, though Dhanraj initiated a nice move in the 35th minute to provide India a 2-1 lead. Prabhjot Singh scored the goal after Dhanraj Pillay made a wonderful run through Pakistan defence.
India was leading Pakistan by 2-1 after the first half and Pakistan scored the second equaliser in the 41st minute of the match from a penalty corner. Both the teams continued attacking on each other's striking circle after the score was leveled at 2-2 and India took the lead for the third time in the 48th minute. The goal was a combined effort from Bimal Lakra, Baljit Dhillon and Deepak Thakur and the later was the scorer for India. Pakistan again came back into the match within a few minutes and leveled the score 3-3 from a penalty corner. The Indians got the shock of the match, when Pakistan scored their fourth goal in the last minute of the match and eventually clinched the match 4-3. It was a lapse on behalf of the Indian defence that allowed Pakistan to score the winner and though Dhanraj Pillay played wonderfully, India lost the match. Dhanraj Pillay was quite disappointed after losing the match, for losing the match and also the bronze medal, in spite of playing well.
(Last Updated on : 01-01-2011)
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