India started with a positive note in the match against Holland in the Champions Trophy, Cologne, 2002 and played the first half without many difficulties. The Holland team scored a goal and took the lead against the flow of match in the beginning of the first half. India did not take much time to get the equaliser and got it in the 22nd minute. Jugraj Singh scored the goal after getting wonderful assistance from Dilip Tirkey and Gagan Ajit Singh. However, India started dominating the Dutch players in the second half of the match and the players like Dhanraj Pillay, Bimal Lakra, Jugraj Singh, Prabhjot and Gagan Ajit Singh were scorching through the Dutch defence. The Indian captain, Dilip Tirkey also played quite well in the half. Dhanraj Pillay was initiating most of the attacks for India in the match and he was making some wonderful runs through the Dutch defence. As the Dutch defence failed to cop up with the speed and velocity of the Indian players, India got a number of chances to score goals in the half.
However, as the Indians continuously missed out the chance of scoring goals, the Dutch players once again took the lead in the match. The goal was scored in the second half and the Indians understood the urge of attacking more on the Dutch defence, after the goal. The Indian midfielders and strikers were charged up after the goal and Dhanraj Pillay also encouraged them to put on more pressure on the opponents. It was a nice move by the Indians that gave the team the equaliser. Dhanraj Pillay brilliantly scored the goal after Prabhjot Singh passed the ball to him from a penalty corner. The extraordinary goal did raise the morale and confidence of the India players in a great way and Dhanraj was leading the Indian attacks in most of the times. India soon took a lead in the match when Prabhjot Singh scored nicely from a wonderful through pass, sent by Dilip Tirkey. However, the Indians once again failed to maintain the lead in the match and Holland scored their third goal in the last minute of the match to end the match on a 3-3 draw.
The next match of the India in the Champions Trophy, Cologne, 2002 was against Germany and the Indians somehow failed to give a good performance in the match. Though the Indian players made some wonderful moves through the German defence in the first few minutes of the match, it was the German team that got the first lead. The German team scored their first goal in the 19th minute of the match from their fourth penalty corner and they continued to put on more pressure on the Indian defence. The Indian strikers failed to equalise the score till the end of the first half and India was trailing by 0-1 in the break. India scored its first goal in the 38th minute, when Gagan Ajit Singh scored past the German goalkeeper to level the score1-1. Dhanraj Pillay played a substantial role in the goal.
The Germany team again took a lead after a few minutes and started to control the match. However, India quickly recovered from the deficit and took advantage of some sloppy play from the German midfield. Dhanraj Pillay once again made a brilliant run through the German defence and got past three defenders to face an illegal tackle. India failed to utilise the free hit that it got from the incidence. India got the equaliser in the 62nd minute of the match, through the stick of Jugraj Singh. However, though Dhanraj Pillay and the other Indian strikers tried their best to get another goal, the team conceded one goal instead. The German team scored their third goal in the 67th minute of the match and eventually won the match with a margin of 3-2. Dhanraj Pillay was quite disappointed to lose the match, as India lost it in spite of his being played wonderfully.
After losing the match against Germany, India faced the Australian team in the next match of the Champions Trophy, Cologne, 2002. Dhanraj Pillay and his teammates were quite determined about having a good match against the Australians and the match saw a fluctuating performance from the Indians. Though, the Indian defence gave away a huge number of 16 penalty corners to the Australians, it became successful to deny the Aussies a goal all the time. The Indian strikers did well to provide the team a lead as early as in the 12th minute. The goal was scored by Jugraj Singh from a penalty stroke and Dhanraj Pillay made way for the second goal within a few minutes after the first goal. He made a brilliant run through the Australian defence to create an open space for Prabhjot Singh. Prabhjot was standing totally unmarked inside the Australian defence and after getting the ball from Dhanraj Pillay, he passed it to Deepak Thakur. Deepak did no mistake to score the goal and provide his team a 2-0 lead. However, the Australia team made good use of the errors made by the Indian midfield and defence and scored a goal, before the break.
The second half of the match saw the same scenario like the first half, as the Indian players continued making mistakes in the midfield and defence and the Australian team continued getting penalty corners. However, the Indian strikers including Dhanraj Pillay also continued their restless hunt for a goal and they got success, once again. Dilip Tirkey hit a powerful shot from the first penalty corner that India got in the second half and the shot went into the Australian goal, after getting deflected by Gagan Ajit Singh's stick. India got into a defending mode after getting a 3-1 lead and as Australians continued attacking on the Indian defence, Australia got the second goal soon. Australia scored their second goal in the ending part of the match; however, India managed to maintain the margin till the end and eventually earned a fascinating 3-2 victory. Dhanraj Pillay was definitely the star for India in the match; however, the Indian goalkeeper Devesh Chauhan played the most important part by preventing the Aussies from scoring from the 16 penalty corners.
The Indian team was quite excited and confident after getting the 3-2 victory against Australia in spite of conceding 16 penalty corners and it played against its arch rivals Pakistan in the next match. The India-Pakistan match of the Champions Trophy, Cologne, 2002 was quite an exciting one, as both the teams were trying their best to get a win and better each other in the match. The match is probably best remembered as one of the best matches that Dhanraj Pillay has played in his entire career. The match saw Dhanraj playing at his best; doing all the brilliant stick work, speedy run, off-the-ball runs and making the opponent defenders fool to create space for the other players. He played in almost every position on the field, be it on the upfront, in the mid-field or in the defence and he was also encouraging his teammates to play well in the match.
When a legend like Dhanraj Pillay plays at his best, it become quite difficult for the opponent team to prevent a defeat and Pakistan understood this right in the 2nd minute of the match. Dhanraj Pillay initiated the first fruitful attack for Indian in the 2nd minute and his wonderful pass went straight to Prabhjot Singh, who was standing unmarked inside the Pakistan defence. Prabhjot easily sent the ball into the net and scored the first goal for India. However, Pakistan came back into the match without much delay and scored the equaliser in the 23rd minute. India yet again took a lead in the match through Dilip Tirkey's stick just before the break and finished the first half 2-1.
Both the teams were on a highly attacking mode in the second half and Pakistan made some good moves to be wasted for the excellence of the Indian goalkeeper, Devesh Chauhan. Dhanraj Pillay continued his dominance over the Pakistani mid-fielders in the second half also and he took a vital role in the third goal of India. It was Dhillon who initiated the move by passing the ball to Dhanraj Pillay and then Pillay fooled 2 Pakistani defenders and gave the ball to Gagan Ajit Singh to score the third goal comfortably. Then, Pakistan went all out to attack the Indian defence and they were trying their best to create an opening for goal. Their desperate attempts paid off for Pakistan as they scored their second goal from the fifth penalty corner they got. Dhanraj Pillay then made a wonderful move in the 63rd minute of the match and India almost got yet another goal. However, Gagan Ajit Singh eventually failed to send the ball safely into the net. Though Pakistan tried hard to get the third equaliser during the rest of the match, India became successful to maintain the margin and eventually won the match by 3-2. Dhanraj Pillay was looking to be very happy after the match, as he played dream hockey in the match and his teammates also accompanied him to their level best.
India played their next match of the Champions Trophy, Cologne, 2002 against Korea after getting a lot of confidence from their two hardly earned wins over Germany and Pakistan. However, the confidence did not help the Indians to display a good show in the match and they lost the match to Korea 2-4. Dhanraj Pillay and the other Indian players could not play at their own form, probably because of tiredness after the two high-voltage matches against Germany and Pakistan. As India lost the match against Korea 2-4, the team also failed to reach the Final of the tournament and instead, they played against Pakistan for a bronze medal.
The match against Korea saw the Indian players making too many mistakes in the mid-field and defence and that helped the Korean to get early goals. Korea scored its first goal from a set-piece move, in the 24th minute of the match. Korea got a penalty stroke in the very next minute and scored their second goal by utilising the opportunity to the fullest. However, Dhanraj Pillay made a brilliant run through the Korean defence in the 40th minute of the match and provided the Indian team its first goal in the match. Korea scored its third goal of the match in the second half and the goal came against the flow of the match. The Indian team was attacking at that time and instead of getting a goal, India conceded one. The Koreans scored yet again in the 67th minute of the match and India eventually became successful to score yet another goal to make the final score line 2-4.
The India team then faced the Pakistan team for winning the bronze medal of the Champions Trophy, Cologne, 2002 and the Indian team was quite confident, even after losing 2-4 to Korea. Dhanraj Pillay started the match right from where he left in the previous match against Pakistan and he played a pivotal role in this match also. Dhanraj Pillay, along with Bimal Lakra started to make waves of attacks into the Pakistani defence and they made some good openings in the initial moments of the match. The Pakistan team was constantly keeping a marker for Dhanraj Pillay but Dhanraj intelligently made some moves to create free space for the other India strikers. Both the teams were playing on a defensive mode in the beginning of the match and they were trying to utilise the occasional chances to get a lead in the match. However, the Indians took the first lead in the match by scoring a goal in the 12th minute through Jugraj Singh's stick.
The Indians started to dominate the Pakistani players in the match, after getting the goal and both Dhanraj and Bimal Lakra were playing at their best forms at that time. Especially, Dhanraj was moving beautifully and started to pick up the ball and move smoothly on the field. He was also taking the ball past a couple of defenders, skillfully and then giving it to his forward line. However, Pakistan got the equaliser in the 28th minute against the flow of the match. The Indian team scored its second goal in the 48th minute of the match, when Dilip Tirkey beat the Pakistani goalkeeper by a powerful shot. Dhanraj Pillay and Bimal Lakra continued to put on more and more pressure on the Pakistan defence after the second goal and Bimal Lakra played a vital role in the third goal of India. He brilliantly moved through the Pakistan defence and passed the ball to Gagan Ajit Singh and Gagan made no mistake to score the third goal.
However, Pakistan once again became successful to cut the lead and scored their second goal to make the score-line read 3-2. Then, a lapse in the Indian defence allowed the Pakistan team to get their third goal and leveled the score 3-3 during the ending part of the match. The most miserable incident for India in the match happened just before five minutes of the end of play, when Pakistan scored their fourth goal and eventually sealed the match 4-3 to win the bronze medal. Dhanraj Pillay and his teammates were quite disappointed with the eventual result, as they lost the match in spite of being the better team in the match. However, Dhanraj Pillay earned a huge honour by becoming the "Player of the Champions Trophy" and that did help him to forget the failure of winning a medal in the Champions Trophy, Cologne, 2002.