From the 1970s Hockey World Cup was the sport’s most important stand-alone tournament.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) launched the men’s hockey world championship in 1971, while the inaugural edition of the women’s competition was held in 1974.
However, eight-time Olympic champions India did not quite live up to expectations in the competition.
How many times has India won the Ice Hockey World Championship?
India has only won the World Hockey Championship once. During the 1975 Men’s Hockey World Championship held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Indian hockey team defeated arch-rival Pakistan to lift the trophy for the first time.
Unfortunately, India has never been able to reach the semi-finals of any of the Ice Hockey World Championships – a surprising statistic considering Indian men’s ice hockey team he was a world hockey powerhouse at the time and was a regular podium finisher at the Olympic and Asian Games.
In fact, India has won a record eight gold medals in men’s hockey at the Olympics, the last of which was won in Moscow in 1980.
In contrast, India’s other Asian powerhouse at the time, Pakistan, is the most successful men’s hockey world championship team with four titles.
India’s victory at the 1975 World Men’s Hockey Championships
In the inaugural edition of the 1971 Men’s Hockey World Cup, India came out as one of the favorites, but their entry into the final was blocked by eventual champions Pakistan in the semi-finals. India eventually settled for the bronze medal after beating Kenya 2-1 in the third-place play-off, which went into extra-time.
In 1973, the men’s ice hockey team from India, fueled by the outstanding performances of Surjit Singh, marched to the semi-finals, where they again met the reigning champions Pakistan. This time, India avenged their 1971 semi-final defeat by beating their Asian rivals 1-0 to kick off the final clash with the hosts, the Netherlands.
India took a two-goal lead in the final thanks to two goals from Surjit Singh, but squandered the advantage when the match finished 2-2 after extra time. A terrifying penalty shoot-out didn’t go well for India as the Dutch team won 4-2 to become the first team to win the Hockey World Cup on home soil.
With bronze and silver in their pockets, India finally delivered on its promise when the 1975 World Hockey Championships were held in Malaysia. For the first time, the competition was held on Asian soil.
With legendary Balbir Singh Sr. acting as manager and experienced Ajit Paul Singh as team captain, India won Group B with three wins, one draw and a single loss to Argentina.
The final of the 1975 India-Pakistan Ice Hockey World Championship
A hard-fought 3-2 win over hosts Malaysia pitted the Indian team against Pakistan in a thrilling final at Merdeka Football Stadium. Muhammad Zaid Sheikh gave Pakistan a quick lead but Surjit Singh scored in his second World Cup final on the trot to equal India. The winning goal was scored by Ashok Kumar – the son of Indian hockey legend Dhyan Chand.
“We came very close to winning the trophy in 1973, but we lost to the hosts, even though they were leading by two goals at once. I conceded a goal in extra time and we missed penalties in sudden death. It was painful for us. That’s why we didn’t want to leave any stones unturned in 1975,” the match winner, Ashok Kumar, later said.
Unfortunately, India never capitalized on this victory, and after the 1980s, the Indian men’s ice hockey team began to lose its luster. Two fifth places, in 1982 and 1994, marked India’s best performances at the men’s hockey world championships since their triumph in 1975.
India has participated in all 14 editions of the Men’s Hockey World Championships so far and will also take part in the 15th FIH Men’s Hockey World Championships 2023 in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela as hosts
India’s results at the men’s hockey world championships
India reached the semi-finals of the inaugural Women’s Hockey World Cup in 1974 but lost to Argentina. The Indian women’s ice hockey team eventually finished fourth after losing the third place play-off to West Germany.
A fourth-place finish at the 1974 Women’s Hockey World Championships in Mandelieu, France, put Indian women’s hockey on the map, but the team has since been unable to finish in the top four in exhibition competition.
Indian women have also appeared in only eight of the 15 world championships so far.