The Indian team played their first match against Argentina in the Olympic Games, Sydney, 2000 and the team started the match on a cautious note. The team was also a bit shaky in the first few minutes and it conceded the first penalty corner to Argentina in the 6th minute. However, the Argentina team could not capitalise on the penalty corner. The Indian players got over this shakiness in the first few minutes very soon and Dhanraj Pillay and Mukesh Kumar started making some good moves to put on pressure on the Argentinean defence. India scored its first goal in the 20th minute of the match and one of the Argentinean players also got a yellow card during the same move. After that, Dhanraj and his teammates started to increase the pressure more and scored the second goal in the 24th minute, through Sameer Dad's stick. India was leading by 2-0 in the break.
The Argentina team made a good come back in the match in the second half and made some wonderful moves to put on some pressure on the Indian defence. However, the Indian players absorbed the pressure nicely and denied Argentina any goal. Another player of Argentina got a yellow card in the 55th minute of the match and India scored their third goal in the 59th minute. Dhanraj Pillay and Baljit Dhillon were instrumental in the goal that was nicely scored by Sameer Dad. The Argentina team failed to score even a single goal during the rest of the match and as a result, India won the match with a comfortable margin of 3-0 to have a good start in the Olympics. Though Dhanraj Pillay did not score any goal in the match, he played a vital role in India's victory, as two of the Argentinean defenders were always busy to mark him. That gave a lot of open space for the other Indian strikers and helped them in scoring goals.
Confident from the win in the first match against Argentina, the Indian team played their second match against the powerful team, Australia. Dhanraj Pillay and the other Indian players started the match on a positive note and Dhanraj especially was making some great moves through the Australian defence. India scored its first goal in the very first minute of the match, when the duo of Dhanraj and Mukesh made a wonderful move and Mukesh eventually scored the goal. However, Australia came back into the match in the 16th minute and scored a goal to level the score 1-1. The goal did not make a huge effect on the Indians, as Dhanraj Pillay was showing signs of his usual form in the match at that time. He made some wonderful and quick runs through the Australian defence to cause a lot of trouble. On one such runs, Dhanraj earned a penalty corner for his team and Baljit Dhillon made good use of the opportunity to score the second goal for India. India was leading by 2-1 during the break.
The second half of the match saw the Indians starting with an attacking mode and they continued to put on pressures on the Australian defence. However, Australia became successful to score their second goal, thanks to a lack in the Indian defence. The goal made a huge effect on the Indians and they started making mistakes. Dhanraj and Baljit Dhillon tried their best to keep their teammates upbeat and they were also making some wonderful moves through the Australian defence. However, as none of the players from Australia and India became successful to convert the chances into goal, the match ended on a score of 2-2.
The third match for India in the Olympic Games, Sydney, 2000 was against the South Korea team in the very next day after the Australia match. Though the Indians were looking to be tired, they started the match on a positive note. The Koreans did good homework before the match and they became successful to stop the quick and speedy runs of Dhanraj Pillay, Mukesh Kumar and Baljit Dhillon. As a result, India was finding it quite difficult to score a goal. The Koreans got the first lead in the match, when they scored their first goal in the 28th minute. After conceding the goal, the Indians started to come back in the match and Dhanraj Pillay and his teammates made some good moves through the Korean defence. However, none of the attacks could be capitalised and as Korea scored their second goal in the second half, India eventually lost the match by 0-2.
India then played their next match against Spain in the Olympic Games, Sydney, 2000 and India had to win the match in order to get into the Semi-Final of the tournament. India started the match on a shaky mode and Spain was clearly dominating the match in the first 10 minutes. However, Dhanraj Pillay and the other Indian players started to gain their momentum after that and especially Dhanraj Pillay was making some extraordinary moves during that period. India also scored its first goal through Baljit Dhillon's stick during this period and Dhanraj Pillay played a crucial role in the goal. Dhanraj was also quite close to score the second goal within a few minutes; however, he missed the ball by a whisper. Spain somehow managed to score the equaliser in the 22nd minute, against the flow of the match. After leveling the score, Spain went all out to attack on the Indian defence and India nicely utilised the gaps that the Spanish players were leaving while attacking.
India scored their second goal through Dilip Tirkey's stick and went ahead 2-1 in the match. The goal was a nice effort from Dilip Tirkey and Dhanraj Pillay was also instrumental during that goal. India was leading by 2-1 during the break. India increased its speed of attacking on the Spanish defence in the second half and they scored their third goal very soon. Dhanraj Pillay and Baljit Dhillon were making waves in the Spanish half and making some wonderful moves. Dhillon scored the third goal from such a move and gave India a 3-1 lead. However, Spain decreased the margin to 2-3 in the 48th minute, but they failed to score any other goal in during the rest of the match. As a result, the Indian team earned a well deserved 3-2 victory in the match.
India's next match in the Olympic Games, Sydney, 2000 was against Poland and India was required to win the match to have a smooth entry into the Semi-Final of the tournament. India started the match on an ultra-defensive mode and only Dhanraj Pillay was trying to create some panic in the Polish defence during the first 15 minutes of play. As the Indians were looking to be happy in defending then attacking, the Polish players started to make moves towards the Indian defence. However, the first half of the match ended dully without any goal scored. The Indian team started the second half on a more positive note and Dhanraj Pillay and the other strikers were also trying to make some moves to the Polish defence. Dhanraj was making some brilliant moves along with Mukesh Kumar during that period; however, all the attacks went in vein for their failure of converting them into goal. India finally scored its first goal in the match through Dilip Tirkey's stick and Dhanraj Pillay played a vital role in the goal. However, India's Mukesh Kumar suddenly saw a yellow card about 17 minutes before the play's end and that forced India to get back into the defensive mode. That helped Poland to get the equaliser in the last minute and the match eventually ended on a 1-1 draw. Though Dhanraj Pillay played his best in the match and made two good efforts in the final minute of the match, both of them remained fruitless. India failed to qualify for the Semi-Final with this draw.
After failing to qualify for the Semi-Finals, India played against the Great Britain team in the classification match. The match was for the 5th/6th position in the Olympic Games, Sydney, 2000 and India played the match for getting a chance of playing in the next edition of the Challenger's Trophy. A top six finish would help India to do so. Dhanraj Pillay was the captain of India for the match, instead of Ramandeep Singh and he did a good job as a captain in the match. India got a good start in the match and scored its first goal in the 10th minute. Dhanraj Pillay initiated the move and Dilip Tirkey nicely converted the chance to a goal. However, Great Britain came back in the match within a few minutes and scored the equaliser in the 16th minute. Then, Dhanraj Pillay made a stunning run through the British defence to create another opening for goal; however, Tirkey's shot on the goal was missed by a whisper.
However, in spite of taking control over the match, the Indian team suddenly started to lose the control and Great Britain took the chance and got the lead in the 46th minute. After scoring the goal, Britain went to a defensive mode and the Indians were finding it quite difficult to have an opening for goal. A frustrated Dhillon saw a yellow card after a while and India went down to 10 men to land into further trouble. Dhanraj Pillay continued to try his best to score a goal for his team till the last moment. Though India got two penalty corners in the last few minutes, none of the Indian strikers could capitalise on those two chances. India eventually lost the match 1-2 to play for the 7th-8th position match against Argentina.
The match against Argentina for the 7th/8th-position in the Olympic Games, Sydney, 2000 saw a better display from the Indian players. Dhanraj Pillay was playing as a striker in the match along with the other strikers and Baljit Dhillon played the role of the play-maker. India started the match nicely and earned a penalty corner only in the 2nd minute, though failed to convert it into goal. India made some more wonderful moves during that period and none of the moves could be converted into goal. However, India soon took a lead when Dhanraj, Sameer Dad and Baljit Dhillon together made a great move. Dhanraj Pillay made a wonderful run during this move to attract a few Argentinean defenders to go after him and created space for Sameer and Dhillon. When Pillay passed the ball to Dhillon, standing in a free position and Dhillon again passed the ball to Deepak Thakur for scoring the goal comfortably. India finished the first half 1-0.
The second half saw a more attractive game from the Indian players and Indian scored its second goal in this half. Dhanraj Pillay was instrumental in this goal also and Dhillon also played a vital role. Sukhbir Singh did well to comfortably send the ball to the net after getting the ball from Dhillon. However, a lapse from the Indian defence allowed the Argentina side to decrease the lead in the 52nd minute. Dhanraj then made another great move in the ending part of the match and scored a brilliant goal to give India a 3-1 lead. The margin remained till the end and India eventually won the match by 3-1 to finish 7th in the Olympic Games, Sydney, 2000. Dhanraj Pillay once again had a good tournament, while the Indian team failed to display a good performance.
(Last Updated on : 01-01-2011)
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