by Sudipta Biswas

A look at the achievers and losers- evaluating India’s performance graph in 2018- highs and lows!

2018 has been a dramatic year for Indian sports. With the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games took place in the very year, Indian sports saw highs and lows. While Team India’s voyage, that begun in 2018 and got over in the second week of 2019, to Australia culminated in their maiden Test series victory, India’s talented teenage group done an excellent job in shooting as they shone brightly all through 2018 in various events. In the athletic events, emergence of javelin-thrower Neeraj Chopra, and sprinter Hima Das were two of the fascinating moments in Indian sports. On the other hand, Mary Kom’s record-breaking sixth gold claim in the AIBA World Boxing Championships in New Delhi made the year 2018 a memorable one for Indian sports lovers. So, here Fisto Sports takes a look at the achievers and losers- evaluating India’s performance graph in 2018- highs and lows!

The achievers

‘Magnificent Mary’

Mary Kom claimed her record-breaking sixth gold medal in the 48kg, flyweight light category, at AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships on November 24, 2018, in New Delhi. She ousted her Ukrainian opponent Hanna Akhota, a 22 -year-old young boxer, to bag the yellow metal. She is now the most successful women boxer in all amateur boxing competitions. At the same time, the 35-year-old Indian legend is now on the level with Cuban male boxer Felix Savon who also won six gold medals at the global level competition.

India got their javelin star

When it comes to performing at international events Indian athletes often fail to leave their impression, but javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra is an exception of the lot. The 21-year-old youngster left the world stunned when he clinched the Jakarta Asian Games gold in the javelin with a throw of 88.06m. Eventually, he broke his own record of 87.43, created at the national event. Even before he won the gold at Jakarta, he became the first Indian to win the Commonwealth Games javelin gold with an effort of 86.47m in April 2018.

India’s badminton queen

2016 Olympic silver medalist PV Sindhu was India’s most consistent shuttler at BWF tournaments in 2018. She played five finals at prestigious events but had to be second best in four of them before breaking her final jinx clinching her maiden BWF World Tour Championships. Sindhu broke her final jinx when she became the first Indian shuttler to clinch the BWF World Tour Championships in Shanghai by thrashing Nozomi Okuhara in straight games 21-19, 21-17 in a mouthwatering clash. This was her maiden gold of the year and 14th overall since 2011.

A scintillating year for Indian table tennis

It has been a scintillating year for Indian table tennis. In the Commonwealth Games 2018, both Indian men and women team clinched their respective gold medal. While India’s men team, which was comprised of Sharath Kamal, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Harmeet Desai, defeated Singapore 3-2 in the final to win the yellow metal India’s women team, which featured Manika Batra, Mouma Das and Madhurika Patkar, outplayed Nigeria 3-0. In the women’s singles event, Batra claimed her gold medal to establish herself as a star in the game.

India finished the tournament with three gold, two silver and three bronze medals. Notwithstanding, it was an overwhelming show from the Indian team. In the Asian Games 2018 table tennis mixed doubles event, Batra and Achanta Sharath Kamal settled for a bronze medal after their defeat to China 4-1. This was India’s second medal in the event from the game. Earlier, India’s men’s doubles team won bronze.

Virat Kohli becomes the fastest batsman to reach 10,000 runs mark in ODIs

Indian skipper Virat Kohli became the fastest man to reach 10,000 runs mark in ODI cricket in 2018. He reached the milestone in the 205th innings. Kohli is away better than legendary Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar. He broke the record of his former fellow Tendulkar who achieved the record in 259th innings. In the second ODI against West Indies Kohli achieved the feat in Visakhapatnam in October en route to his 157 not out. Meanwhile, Kohli became the highest run-getter in Test cricket for the third successive years. He accumulated 2,676 runs at an average of 69.81.

Dhing Express

Sprinter Hima Das was a rather unknown name until she registered her name in the history book of Indian sports in July 2018. The Assam girl, who is popularly known as ‘Dhing Express’, left everyone shell-shocked when she burst into the scene winning the 400m final in the World Under-20 Athletics Championships in Tampere, Finland. On winning the gold in Tampere Hima became the first Indian to win gold in a World Championships at any level be it youth, junior or senior. She was also the first Indian — man or woman — to clinch the gold in a track event at the world level.

A ‘teenage’ shooting revolution begun

16-year-old Manu Bhaker demonstrated India’s shooting teenage revolution by achieving two firsts on the international stage- starting the year with the women’s 10m air pistol gold at the World Cup in Guadalajara and ending it with another gold at the Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games.

In between, she defeated World No. 1 Heena Sidhu to be crowned champion in the Commonwealth Games.

Meanwhile, Saurabh Chaudhary, another 16-year-old shooter, clinched gold in 10m air pistol in the junior World Cup in Germany before repeating the feat at the Asian Games and the Youth Olympics.

India won their maiden Test series in Australia

India has been touring Australia since 1947-48. Except for three draws, India had not had won a single Test series Down Under. But, things have changed completely in 2018-19 when Virat Kohli led Team India defeated Australia 2-1 in the recently concluded four-Test series to clinch their maiden Border-Gavaskar trophy in Australia. Eventually, they reinstated their trophy which they won at home in the 2017-2018 season. India notched the history after nine Test series defeats.

Losers

Sushil Kumar’s dumb failure

India finished the Jakarta Asian Games on a high note as they returned home with their best-ever medal haul (15 gold, 24 silver and 30 bronze), but ace wrestler Sushil Kumar’s first-round exit left everyone shell-shocked. He was stunned 3-5 by Adam Batirov of Bahrain in the men’s 74 kg competition. This was Sushil’s first Asian Games appearance since 2006 when he won bronze at Doha Asian Games. Though, he won gold at Commonwealth Games 2018 at Gold Coast, Australia, his Asian Games failure was one of the major disappointments of the year.

Indian hockey team fails to make it big

The year 2018 was full of heartbreaks for the Indian hockey team as they missed a number of opportunities. Their biggest heartbreak was when Indian men’s hockey team suffered defeat to the Netherlands in quartfinals of the FIH Hockey World Cup at Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar. The defeat dashed India’s hope of winning Hockey World Cup title after 43 years.

Earlier, they suffered defeat to Malaysia in the Asiad semifinals. India finished with the bronze medal which ensured them a direct qualification to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. India’s loss in the semis saw talismanic Sardar Singh retiring from the game.  The women team also had cope with their heart-wrenching defeat when their golden chance of winning the Asiad gold wasted as they lost to Japan in the final.

India’s 28-year-old dominance in Kabaddi brought to end

When India was brought down by spirited Iran in the semifinals of Asian Games 2018 an era of dominance came to end. India has long been regarded as the fortress of kabaddi but their defeat to South Korea in the group stage stunned everyone. Iran, an emerging force in kabaddi, brought the end of India’s 28-year-old dominance in the sport beating them in the semifinals.  This defeat also put an end to India’s gold medal-winning spree at the Asian Games. India won seven consecutive yellow metals at the continental event.

The year of India’s badminton debacle

It was largely a disappointing year for Indian badminton. Except for Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and Sameer Verma’s gold medal clinches at the Commonwealth Games, BWF World Tour Championships and Syed Modi International Badminton Championships Indian shuttlers experienced a rather placid year. Though Nehwal won India’s maiden Asian Games badminton medal winning bronze India’s men shuttlers were at the receiving end at most of the prestigious events. While renowned shuttler Kidambi Srikanth struggled with his chronic injuries the likes of HS Prannoy, Parupalli Kashyap and B Sai Praneeth failed to cope with the challenges offered by their counterparts.

Indian women cricket team in deep trouble          

Things were not rosy at Indian women cricket team. After India’s semi-finals defeat to England in the West Indies WorldT20, a fracas came in the limelight as veteran star Mithali Raj alleged that she was benched from the semi-finals without giving any proper reason. The Indian apex court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) member Diana Edulji even backed the team management’s decision. But, CoA chief Vinod Rai was not happy with Raj’s removal from the World T20 semi-finals that led to coach Ramesh Pawar’s exit from the women’s team.

Even BCCI made it clear that it would not be in a position to offer Pawan a full-time job with the Women in Blues as they sought applications for the head coach position which was untimely given to Woorkeri Venkat Raman, former Delhi Ranji team coach.

Meanwhile, India lost to Bangladesh in the final of Asia Cup 2018. This was India’s first defeat in the Asia Cup. During the tournament, Raj became the first Indian cricketer-male and female- to amass 2000 runs in the shortest format of the game.

 


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