2016  A year of sporting  surprises for India

2016  A year of sporting  surprises for India

It is the time to analyse how Indian sports has gone by in last 52 weeks of the gone by year.  Sports does not always go by scripts, as in life, but good memories are remembered for a long time. This was a leap year, a year when the Olympics and Paralympics were held in Rio de Janeiro. Kabaddi world cup held in India and Archery world cup in Denmark. India also participated in many mega events like Asian Hockey Champions, Asian Nations Cup Chess Championship etc. Let’s remember all the good and bad memories of 2016

Cricket

Four ODIs in Australia, one T20I in a bilateral series against Sri Lanka in India, the World T20 opener and its semi-final, one T20I each in Zimbabwe and the USA, and two ODIs in the five-match series against New Zealand, these 11 matches India lost in last 12 months, but not a single Test among them. India won its 500th Test, and became number 1 Test team again. It has undoubtedly been India’s year in international cricket. No team has won as much in 2016. Their win-loss ratio of 2.818 is streets ahead of the next best team. The year started with the sword of the Supreme Court hanging over the BCCI and the year ends in the very same manner with the Supreme Court stripped of it’s officials. They have won 31 matches, two more than their previous best, and have never managed such a good win-loss ratio. Middle-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane and Opener Rohit Sharma conferred with Arjuna Award in September 2016.

Rio Olympics and Paralympics

You can keep cribbing that for a nation with such a huge population, just two medals from the Olympics is a very poor count. Defying all odds and showing killer instincts, PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik and Dipa Karmakar became the unlikely heroines and saved the country’s pride from returning empty-handed for the first time since Barcelona 1992. It was towards the fag end, the badminton hall and wrestling arena roared to life. India’s first female gymnast Dipa went on to miss a bronze by 0.15 points but her clean finish in the high-risk Produnova vault won the hearts of the nation. India performed spectacularly at the Rio Paralympic games, claiming their best ever haul of four medals, including two golds, a silver and a bronze medal. Devendra Jhajharia, the 35-year-old Paralympian, became the first Indian to win two gold medals,  Jhajharia had also won Gold for India in 2004 at Athens, before Rio. Mariyappan Thangavelu cleared a distance of 1.78m in the men’s high jump T-42 event and won the gold medal, The 45-year old Deepa Malik, was the oldest member of India’s contingent in Rio, and become the first Indian female Paralympian  to win a Silver medal at the games. The 21-year old Varun Bhati, clinched the bronze medal in the men’s high jump T-42 event.

Hockey

A few disappointments aside, 2016 was all about Indian hockey’s phenomenal rise in stature. Champions Trophy silver, gold in Asian Champions Trophy and Junior World Cup title were the high points on the turf, In its first such final in 15 years, India overwhelmed Belgium for the second time this year, 2-1 to lift the 2016 Hockey Junior World Cup. The Indian women’s hockey team lifted its maiden Asian Champions Trophy with a thrilling 2-1 win over China in the final. Before this Mens team also won the title by defeating Pakistan in the final 3-2.

Kabaddi World Cup 2016

Some things never change, and India’s kabaddi supremacy is certainly one of these. Anup Kumar’s side, considered overwhelming favourites to lift their third World Cup and they did so in emphatic fashion in Ahmedabad in October 2016. Moreover, doing so against an strong Iran  team that played the match of their lifetimes had an astonishing feel about it.  India played top class kabaddi to overcome Iran  by 38-29 points.

Archery World Cup 2016

The Indian women’s team settled for silver after losing to Chinese Taipei in the final, while men’s trio and mixed pair won their respective bronze playoffs in the first stage of the Archery World Cup at the Yuanshen Stadium. The mixed pair of Deepika and Atanu ended India’s campaign on a high. Women’s team, put up an inconsistent show to lose against lower-ranked Chinese Taipei 2-6 in the recurve team final.

Other Sports

Indian ace Saina Nehwal clinched her second Australian Open title after defeating China’s Sun Yu in a thrilling three-game final of the Super Series badminton tournament in Sydney. Indian boxer Vijender Singh knockout Francis Cheka and retain his WBO Asia Pacific title with ease in New Delhi. Top seeds Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis lost to Timea Babos and Yaroslava Shvedova in the Wimbledon 2016 women’s doubles quarters. Later the women’s doubles pair (Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis) rebounded from their last two final losses to clinch the International BNL d’Italia title in Rome. Indian men won the Asian Nations Cup Chess tournament with a 3-1 victory over Vietnam in the final round as they pushed formidable China down to second place. This was the third time that Indian men won the event. In Soccer Sunil Chetri scored one of the most important goals of his career to snatch an unlikely win for India in the final  of the SAFF Suzuki Cup football tournament against Afghanistan in January 2016.

by Sorabh Aggarwal

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