For a man responsible for nurturing a team that went down to a 3-4 defeat against their arch-rivals on Saturday evening, Hockey India president Narinder Batra seemed remarkably cocky during his TV appearances on Sunday morning.

He’d been let off the hook by the very men who beat India in the hard-fought Champions Trophy semi-finals in Bhubaneshwar on Saturday. After thumping home the winning goal a heart-stopping 90 seconds before the final hooter, some members of the Pakistani team displayed their elation in a ridiculously jejune fashion: they flashed their middle fingers at the crowd and waggled their pelvises at them.

It was immature, but it gave Hockey India the opportunity it needed to save face. Though the Pakistani team apologised for their actions to the sport’s international governing body, Hockey India has announced that it will not play host to any FIH tournaments until “strong action” is taken against the men in green.

Indian culture at stake

"If FIH rules and regulations permit such uncivilised behaviour then they should hold their tournaments in any other country not India because Indian culture and values don't permit such acts," Batra told PTI.

He added that India will not play in any bilateral or trilateral tournaments involving Pakistan, which means that the India-Pakistan series due to be played in Dhaka soon will be cancelled.

This jingoistic gesture may delude Hockey Indian officials into believing that they have salvaged some pride, but in reality, it is a terrible decision for Indian hockey.  The team needs all the international-level match practice it can get.

Patchy show

The final 3-4 score line of Saturday’s semi-final didn’t reflect India’s missed chances, patchy passing, and defence lapses. “We just couldn’t execute our strategy during the first 30 minutes,” captain Sardar Singh was quoted as saying in the Indian Express. “Maybe our players got a little too excited.”

The thrilling game showed that while India is studded with several rough diamonds, they still need polish. Over the past year, the team made remarkable progress under the guidance of Australian coach Terry Walsh. In October, the Indian team edged out Pakistan in Incheon to win its first Asian Games gold in 16 years, ensuring a place in the 2016 Olympics in Rio.  But last month, Walsh quit in disgust, citing unnecessary interference from Hockey India officials in handling the team.

As has so often been the case, Indian hockey is being stifled by the very people entrusted with guiding its growth. With this latest display of shallow patriotism, Hockey India has continued its glorious tradition of scoring self-goals.