Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin, Ashwin, FIH president Tayyab Ikram, Hockey India president Dilip Tirkey and some of the other bigwigs from the state were escorted to the pitch and introduced to the players who had lined up in the middle before the start of the match.
The crowd then witnessed a heartwarming scene after the National Anthems were sung.
While the other guests walked off the pitch giving their best wishes to the players, India off-spinner Ashwin stood back to wait for goalkeeper Sreejesh, who came sprinting and the two legends of Indian sports exchanged a hug.
India went on to beat Pakistan 4-0, thanks to a brace by skipper Harmanpreet Singh and a goal each from Jugraj Singh and Akashdeep Singh. The defeat put Pakistan out of the tournament.
When Timesofindia.com asked Sreejesh after the match what words he and Ashwin exchanged in that brief moment, he joked: “Veterans now!” and burst into laughter.
“It was a great gesture from him. He is a legend, such a senior player, current international team member, and still he recognised me,” a modest Sreejesh told TimesofIndia.com.
“He came to say hi. It’s something I can cherish for my lifetime because nobody does that. Seriously.”
India will take on defending champions Japan in the semifinals on Aug 11. The other semifinal will be between South Korea and Malaysia on the same day.