India played its first match against Japan in the World Cup, Kuala Lumpur, 2002 and the team started the match on a cautious but positive note. Though the Indian team started the match on a bit slow pace, Dhanraj Pillay and Deepak Thakur were making some good moves through the Japanese defence. Dhanraj was making his trademark quick runs through the Japan defence and he was also putting huge pressure on the Japanese defenders. The Japan team was also making some wonderful attacks on the Indian defence and as a result, they took the first lead in the match. They scored their first goal from a penalty corner, just within a few minutes after the match started and took a 1-0 lead over India. On the other hand, though India got two penalty corners, they failed to capitalise on them. Only the players like Dhanraj Pillay and Baljit Dhillon were making some positive moves towards the Japanese defence in the first half. The Japanese made good use of the failure of Indian players and they soon scored their second goal to take a 2-0 lead.
However, Dhanraj Pillay then started to make some serious moves through the Japanese defence and as Baljit Dhillon also accompanied him well, they put on huge pressure on the Japanese defenders. Pillay scored a brilliant goal to decrease the lead to 1-2 and then he again became instrumental to score the second goal for India through Deepak Thakur's stick. The second goal was the result of a stunning run from Dhanraj Pillay and his final pass left nothing for Deepak Thakur, except simply pushing the ball into the net. Though the Indians made some more good moves to the Japanese defence after equalising the score, their failure of converting chances into goals, forced them to end the match on a 2-2 draw.
After a gap of one day, the Indian team played against the South Korean team in the second match of the World Cup, Kuala Lumpur, 2002. Dhanraj Pillay and his teammates were quite determined and confident of beating South Korea in the match, so that they could recover the loss from the draw with Japan. India was very much into an attacking mode right from the beginning of the match and Dhanraj Pillay was involved in most of the Indian moves in the beginning. He was playing superbly and he also penetrated the Korean defence for many times. While making one of his best runs in the match, Dhanraj Pillay was body-checked by a Korean defender and India got a penalty corner for that. However, India failed to made good use of the penalty corner, as Jugraj Singh's hit went wide the Korean goalpost. It was the Korean side that took the first lead in the 20th minute of the match from a penalty corner.
Though, India was getting a number of penalty corners through wonderful moves made by Dhanraj Pillay and the other Indian strikers, their failure of converting the chances into goals always eluded them from getting the equaliser. Dhanraj Pillay was trying his best to make things happen in India's favour, but failing most of the times, due to lack of assistance from the other players. South Korea took very good advantage of this scattered condition of India and they increased their lead to 2-0 in the ending part of the match. That put on some more pressure on the Indian players and they got success in scoring a goal in the last minute of the match. Jugraj Singh scored the first goal for India in the last minute, however, that was too late for the team and India eventually lost the match 1-2 to South Korea. The loss struck hard on India, as it threatened a Semi-Final berth for India.
India faced the hosts of the World Cup, Kuala Lumpur, 2002, Malaysia in their third pool match and India was required to win the match for being in the race to reach the top six of the tournament. Malaysia was also in the same state and was willing to win the match against India. Dhanraj Pillay and the other Indian players were quite confident and determined about having a good match against the Malaysians; however, they started the match on a bit shaky note. The Malaysian players took the advantage of India's shakiness in the beginning and scored their first goal only in the 2nd minute of the match. The goal was the result of a huge lack on behalf of the Indian defence. The Indian team went on an attacking mode just after conceding the goal and Dhanraj Pillay and Baljit Saini were making constant efforts to break the Malaysian defence. One of India's goals was cancelled by the umpire after a few minutes and as a result, the Indians became de-motivated once again. Malaysia increased the lead to 2-0, from a penalty corner by taking advantage of India's this condition. India got into a deeper trouble when Malaysia scored their third goal within a few minutes and India went on to break with a deficit of 0-3 to Malaysia.
At 3-0 up in the break, the Malaysian team decided to go on a defensive mode in the second half and that helped the Indian players like Dhanraj Pillay and Baljit Dhillon to put on pressure on the Malaysian defence. Dhanraj was leading the Indian forward line at that time and was making some wonderful defence-piercing runs to create space for the other strikers. India scored its first goal in the 51st minute of the match, when Baljit Singh sent a pass to Daljit Singh and Daljit made no mistake in scoring the goal. India was regaining control over the match gradually and soon they scored their second goal, through Prabhjot Singh's stick. Though, India made some more good moves during the ending part of the match, Malaysia eventually won the match by a margin of 3-2 to go to the next level of the tournament.
After two defeats and one draw in their first three matches, India played against the England team in their fourth pool match in the World Cup, Kuala Lumpur, 2002. The match started on the same note as against Malaysia and the Indian team conceded a goal as early as in the 11th minute of the match. The England team scored their first goal in the 11th minute and they were also making some good moves during that period. The Indians were not getting anything right for them, as Dhanraj Pillay and the other strikers could convert the chances into goals. However, Dhanraj Pillay then made a good move through the English defence and earned a penalty corner for India. The penalty corner proved to be fruitful for India, as Dilip Tirkey successfully scored the equaliser from a hard hit straight to the English goal.
India started gaining confidence after scoring the equaliser and Dhanraj Pillay and his teammates were trying to make some more good moves through the English defence. However, as the England team successfully kept their defence intact, India failed to get their second goal. Instead, England scored their second goal just after conceding a goal from India and increased the lead to 2-1. England soon scored their third goal from a penalty corner within a few minutes from the second goal and India was trailing by 1-3 at that point. However, though Baljit Singh Dhillon soon reduced the deficit to 2-3, the Indians could not score any goal during the rest of the match. As a result, India lost this match also and the margin was 2-3.
In the next pool match of the World Cup, Kuala Lumpur, 2002, India faced the underdog Cuba and comfortably clinched a 4-0 victory against Cuba. Dhanraj Pillay and his teammates played well in the match, as India scored the first goal only within a few minutes after the match started. Dilip Tirkey scored the first goal for India and the team got the second goal in the 14th minute of the match. The goal came from a penalty corner that was nicely converted into goal by Daljit Dhillon. India soon got its third goal in the match just after two minutes from the second goal, when Deepak Thakur successfully sent the ball into Cuba's net. After leading with a huge margin of 3-0 in the break, the Indian team played more aggressively in the second half. India scored its fourth goal in the 52nd minute, through a wonderful effort from Baljit Singh Dhillon and sealed the match 4-0. Though, he did not get a goal, Dhanraj Pillay played nicely in the match and made some wonderful efforts to the Cuban defence.
India continued to capitalise on its suddenly found confidence and won its next pool match against Poland in the World Cup, Kuala Lumpur, 2002, as well. India played nicely in the match to clinch a comfortable victory of 4-1 and Dhanraj Pillay again played brilliantly in the match. Dhanraj, along with Baljit Dhillon and Deepak Thakur put on some huge pressure on the Polish defence and got the first goal for India within the first few minutes in the match. Daljit Singh scored the goal from an attack that was initiated by Dhanraj and well assisted by Baljit and Deepak. India scored the second goal in the 16th minute, when Baljit scored nicely to give India a 2-0 lead.
However, the Poland team then came back into the match nicely and scored a goal to reduce the margin to 1-2, though for a short while only. It was Dhanraj Pillay who initiated another wonderful attack for giving India the third goal of the match. Dhanraj made a wonderful run through the Polish defence to create space for the other Indian strikers and then send a brilliant pass to Baljit Saini. Baljit then gave it to Prabhjot Singh, who successfully scored the third goal for India. India was leading 3-1 after the first half and increased the margin in the second half. Dhanraj Pillay was playing some of his best Hockey in the second half of this match and he continued causing troubles to the Polish defenders. He was making his trademark runs through the Polish defence and he was also sending some wonderful passes to his teammates. India's fourth goal came off one such brilliant pass from Dhanraj Pillay and Baljit Singh scored the goal for India in the 55th minute. India maintained the margin till the end and won the match by 4-1.
India's last pool match in the World Cup, Kuala Lumpur, 2002 was against the powerful Australia team and India showed one of their best performances in the World Cup in this match. The Indian team was quite upbeat and confident about their performances after getting two huge victories in the previous two matches and started the match against Australia on a positive note. India started attacking on the Australian defence right from the beginning of the match and Jugraj Singh scored off a penalty-corner flick to give India a 1-0 lead. Dhanraj Pillay and Baljit Singh Dhillon were making some brilliant moves during the period and especially Dhanraj was causing more troubles to the Australian defenders. However, Australia got the equaliser in the 42nd minute of the match, though Dhanraj soon initiated a move for India's second goal. He made a brilliant run to penetrate the Australian defence and gave the ball to Daljit Dhillon, who comfortably scored India's second goal.
India continued keeping pressure on the Australian defence, however, the Australia team became successful to equalise the score once again. They got a penalty corner, as the ball hit the chest of Dilip Tirkey and they utilised the penalty corner to level the score 2-2. Australia went on to an attacking mode just after getting the equaliser and they got a lead of 3-2, within a few minutes. Australia again increased the lead to 4-2 after few minutes, though Prabhjot Singh reduced the margin to 4-3, 3 minutes before the end. Though, the Indians tried their best to get the equaliser during the rest of the time, they failed to do so and eventually lost the match 3-4 to Australia. After losing the match to Australia, India played against Spain in the match to decide the play-offs for 9th/10th positions and won the match by 3-0. Dhanraj Pillay did not play in the match.
In the play-offs for 9th/10th positions in the World Cup, Kuala Lumpur, 2002, the Indian team played against the New Zealand team with a view to have a good show in the match. The Indian team started the match on a positive note and took the lead in the first half. Deepak Thakur scored the goal for India to provide a 1-0 lead; however, the New Zealand team came back in the second half of the match. New Zealand scored the equaliser in the 59th minute of the match. Dhanraj Pillay did not play in the match right from the beginning and he came on the field only in the 47th minute. However, as all the other Indian strikers failed to beat the New Zealand defence. As the Indian defenders also could not do well, the New Zealand team got the winning goal, just six minutes before the end of play. The Indian team eventually lost the match with a margin of 1-2 and crashed out of the tournament. Though it was another failed campaign for India in the World Cup, Kuala Lumpur, 2002, Dhanraj Pillay played quite well in the tournament.
(Last Updated on : 01-01-2011)
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