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Indian Sports: Top 10 events of the passing year

Indian Sports: Top 10 events of the passing year

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 25 Dec 2023, 06:02 pm

Despite the shadow of a prolonged wrestlers' protest over alleged sexual harassment, 2023 will go down in the history of India as a year when the sporting world witnessed progress with athletes showing promise of performing better in the coming years and bringing more laurels to the nation. If the cricket World Cup ended with a heartbreak for fans after India lost the title clash against Australia, the tri-colour shined brightly in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou. IBNS-TWF correspondent Supriyo Hazra walks down the months that have passed this year to track the top 10 sporting episodes which the country witnessed.

Rohit Sharma's Lions fail to clinch World Cup despite high-spirited show

It has been 12 years since India won the last World Cup title in 2011 under the leadership of MS Dhoni and fans were expecting that Rohit Sharma and his men would bag the third title this time when the showpiece event was hosted in the country. The Indian team commenced their journey with a bang and won 10 exciting games, including a victory over arch-rival Pakistan, to book their seat in the final. Australia, the team which shattered India's hope of clinching the trophy in 2003, once again qualified for the final, promising a cracker final in Ahmedabad on November 19. However, the dreams of millions of Indians were broken when the old rival once again dominated the proceedings and rode on the shoulders of Travis Head (137) and Marnus Labuschagne (58) to beat India and clinch their sixth 50-over World Cup prize.

Despite a heartbreaking defeat, Indian cricket touched some landmark moments in the tournament where the cricket world witnessed the passionate captaincy of Rohit Sharma who also shined with the willow and provided a strong start to the country in all the games. He was leading the country for the first time in the 50-over cricket event and showed his brilliance as the skipper all through the tournament where his team defeated top teams to reach the final. He also scored 597 runs with the willow in the World Cup 2023. 

This edition of the World Cup was also Indian cricket icon Rahul Dravid's first stint as the national team's head coach. Interestingly, Rahul was also a part of the 2003 World Cup final and he once again witnessed the Men in Blue's defeat in the grand final at the hands of the same opponent 20 years later. However, his stint was so impactful that the BCCI extended his tenure after it ended after the World Cup.

Image: BCCI websiteImage: BCCI website

Mohammed Shami remained yet another bright spot in the World Cup campaign as he single handedly changed the course of several games with his near-perfect bowling and finished as the tournament's highest wicket-taker with 24 wickets in his name. It included three fifers and one four-wicket haul. With a wonderful performance on the cricket pitch and maintaining a perfect line and length that left opponents in trouble, Shami will be remembered as one of the dark horses of Indian cricket in 2023.

Virat Kohli breaks Sachin Tendulkar's record

Virat Kohli kept improving his performance with every passing year and in 2023 he rewarded himself with the evergreen gift of breaking the record which was once set by Indian icon Sachin Tendulkar in his glorious career.

The stage of shattering the record was also picture-perfect as Virat surpassed Sachin Tendulkar to hit his 50th ODI century. He might not have excelled in the final of the World Cup but Virat Kohli shined in the tournament and remained a dominant name in the world of cricket for another year.

Australia haunt India in World Test Championship final

If you were expecting that the World Cup final was the only time Australia ended India's dream of an ICC title this year then you would be wrong as the same team defeated Rohit Sharma's men in the final of the World Test Championship final in England in June.

Australia defeated India by 209 runs to win their maiden title. This was India's second outing in the World Test Championship final. However, India's hopes of winning the title remained untouched both times. New Zealand had defeated the Indian squad in the first edition of the tournament.

Mumbai India welcomes Hardik Pandya as skipper

Ending Rohit Sharma's glorious 10-year tenure as skipper, Mumbai Indians named Hardik Pandya as the captain of the squad for the upcoming Indian Premier League season. Sharma had guided the franchisee to five IPL titles in his career.

MSD-Chennai Super Kings-IPL title victory

MS Dhoni returned to the cricket field once again in 2023 and yes this time Chennai Super Kings lifted the showpiece title under his leadership, extending the legacy of a captain who will remain as the champion poster boy of Indian cricket forever.

India creates history in Asiad

Away from cricket, India shone as a bright spot in the Chinese city of Hangzhou where the athletes clinched a record 107 medals, leaving a cricket-crazy nation to rejoice in the grand achievement. The inspiring Indian contingent finished the event with 28 medals. India's previous highest medal haul in the major sporting event was 70. It was achieved during the Jakarta event in 2018. India finished the medals tally in fourth position just behind powerhouse nations like China, Japan and South Korea.

From Shooting to Hockey, it rained medals for India and expected names like Neeraj Chopra and Parul Chaudhary did not fail to leave the promise of bringing home the much-priced gold medal.

Indian Football continues its promising march

Indian football star and inspiration Sunil Chhetri led his team from the front as the national team won the SAFF title by beating tough opponents like Lebanon in the semi-final and then Kuwait in the final clash.

India repeated a similar show in Round 2 of the World Cup 2026 Asian Qualifiers when the squad defeated Kuwait with the help of a solitary goal by Manvir Singh. Fans are expecting the national side to continue the golden run and advance to the next round. Despite a defeat at the hands of Qatar, India can still reach the Round 3 of the qualifiers.

Chess prodigy Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa

Image tweeted by R PraggnanandhaaImage tweeted by R Praggnanandhaa

Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa remained the talk of the town when he reached the zenith of success by challenging his strong opponent Magnus Carlsen in the FIDE Chess World Cup Final. He lost the final narrowly in a rapid format tie-breaker. Rameshbabu  and his sister Vaishali added glory to the country's chess history by becoming the 84th Grandmaster. They are now the world's first-ever Grandmaster siblings. She is also the third Indian woman grandmaster after Koneru Humpy and Harika Dronavalli.

Indian wrestling touches new low over WFI episode

There was a dark phase in Indian sports amid all the shining moments in 2023 when top Olympics medal-winning wrestlers started protesting against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). They alleged that former WFI chief Brijbhushan Sharan Singh had a history of sexually harassing and molesting female wrestlers. From protesters being jailed to water cannons used against them, the wrestlers were pitted against the government. The Supreme Court's intervention finally forced the Delhi Police to open a case into the incident, eventually leading to the suspension of Singh.

At the fag end of the year, the wrestlers once again were left startled when Brijbhushan Sharan Singh's close aide Sanjay Singh was elected as the chief of the Indian wrestling body. Sanjay Singh won 40 out of 47 votes in a sweeping victory over Anita Sheoran, a Commonwealth Games gold medallist who was backed by top wrestlers after she had taken to the streets earlier over sexual harassment allegations against Brij Bhushan. Sanjay Singh has earlier served as the vice-president of the Uttar Pradesh wrestling body. He was part of the WFI's last executive council and its joint secretary since 2019. With wrestlers protesting again, the newly elected WFI was suspended, raising the possibility of another round of elections.The Centre's intervention has prompted the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to form a temporary panel to oversee WFI affairs.This also means that it will also be responsible for organising international events and sporting competitions. Concerns were raised by ace wrestler Sakshi Malik about the upcoming junior national competitions as the event would be organised on Brijbhushan Sharan Singh’s home turf. Subsequently, the Centre ordered the halt of all activities by the newly-elected WFI panel until further notice, citing the "hasty" announcement of the junior national contests.

Player of the Year:

Poster boy Neeraj Chopra gives cheering moments to fans

India's poster boy Neeraj Chopra has been in the news ever since he won the Olympic gold medal in 2021 in Men's Javelin throw and 2023 remained another red-letter year of his life when he successfully defended his Asian Games gold. But the year's highlight point was when the Haryana lad became the first Indian world champion in track & field to clinch the world title.

He added the laurel to his name with an 88m-plus throw at the World Athletics Championships in August in Budapest, Hungary. Besides, he also won the iconic Diamond League title and topped the men’s javelin rankings in the world in May. Fans will be eagerly waiting now whether Chopra could repeat a similar performance in the Paris Olympics in 2024.

Photo Courtesy: MI X page, Anurag Thakur X page, IBNS File,ICC Instagram page,UNI,Indian Football X page,Sakshee Malikkh X page,World Athletics X page

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