Ipoh: The controversial penalty stroke that enabled Malaysia hold India to a 2-2 draw in their final round-robin match of Sultan Azlan Shah hockey, has once again initiated the debate about introducing third umpire in hockey, a move which FIH has been contemplating for a while now.
The idea has been well received by coaches - Michael Nobbs, Paul Kevingon, Paul Lissek and Akhtar Rasool - and the general consensus was that the ruling should be restricted, say one in each half for a team.
"Too much of hold-up will rob the charm of modern hockey. It makes sense to introduce it but only with restrictions in the number of times in a match," said Pakistan chief coach Akhtar Rasool.
India were leading 2-1 until the last minute on Saturday when the umpires, after awarding a penalty corner to Malaysia, consulted and changed their decision into a penalty stroke, which Faisal Saari converted into a goal to deny India a win.
For Malaysia, there was not much at stake, having already made it to the final of the tournament even before taking on India. However, India had to pay a huge price, for a win would have meant playing for the third-fourth place and a possible podium finish.
Ironically, the only World Cup title won by India under Ajit Pal Singh in '75 at Kuala Lumpur had a controversial element of doubt to it.
The ruling of Malaysian umpire Vijayanathan, popularly known as Viji, awarding India's match winning goal by Ashok Kumar was a hotly disputed one by Pakistan. The arch-rivals had contended that the shot struck by Ashok hit the inside post and did not roll in.
But Vijayanathan had stuck to his guns, ruling it in India's favour. Much water has flowed under the bridge since that epic India triumph. Only that the wheel has turned the full circle, and India were at the receiving end of the umpire's ruling on Saturday.
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