The Indian men's hockey team's stellar start to their FIH Pro League campaign this year has gone a long way in helping them finish 2020 at fourth spot in the world rankings -- their highest ranking since the system was introduced in 2003.
India played six games in the Pro League before the hockey calendar ground to a halt due to the Covid-19 pandemic in March.
They made an emphatic start, beating Olympic silver medallists the Netherlands 5-2 and 3-3 (3-1) and following that up with a 2-1 win over reigning world champions Belgium before losing 3-4 in the second leg of the tie. They then fell to a 3-4 loss to Australia, but then went on to beat them 2-2 (3-1) in the second leg.
India's year-end rankings have been on an upward curve for the better part of the last decade. They finished 10th in 2011 and then fell to 11th in 2012. This is one of just two instances between 2011 and 2020 that India have dropped a ranking spot at the end of a year compared to the previous year.
They went back to 10th in 2013 before rising to ninth in 2014. Year 2015 ended with India finishing in sixth and they rose to fifth at the end of 2016. Then came the second drop of the decade as they failed to challenge for a medal at the Rio Olympics and dropped to sixth once again.
India would then finish fifth in 2018 and 2019. They clinched the fourth spot in the first week of March this year and, with 2,063.78 points, have maintained that position ever since.