A Year Filled with Grit & Grace

A Year Filled with Grit & Grace

It was a wonderful year for India on the sports front. Dominance was demonstrated across playing fields and historic feats were accomplished in 2023...

It was a wonderful year for India on the sports front. Dominance was demonstrated across playing fields and historic feats were accomplished in 2023 with over a century of medals won at the Asian Games in Hangzhou and the Asian Para Games, as well as their dominance in world cricket.

Asian Games witnessed India claim medals in categories that it never dreamt of. Gold in the Dressage team category, steeplechase, women’s 5000 m, and women’s javelin among others turned into several firsts for India as athletes put their perspiration and blood into making the country proud at the worldwide level. India’s ODI World Cup campaign was top notch in terms of consistency and excellence as they stormed into the final as invincible, however missed the trophy for the third time as crores of enthusiasts watch it with equanimity. The 16-year-old Sheetal Devi, the world’s first female archer to compete internationally without arms, bagged three medals at the Asian Para Games in Hangzhou and became the first Indian woman to win two gold in a single edition of the Games. She later ascended to the world number 1 spot in the women’s compound open section of the para world archery rankings, and earned the Best Youth Athlete Of The Year honour at the Asian Awards 2023. The teeanger capped off an already-memorable year with a gold at the first Khelo India Para Games in Delhi.

Grandmaster siblings R Praggnanandhaa (centre) and Vaishali (right), with mother Nagalakshmi. The Indian chess prodigy Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa achieved the peak of the sport by challenging the mighty Magnus Carlsen in the FIDE Chess World Cup Final, prior to losing narrowly in a rapid format tie-breaker. The 18-year-old was the youngest to reach the title clash of the tournament and with his pioneering run, sealed a prestigious Candidates qualification. His sister Vaishali consequently ensured the duo’s status as chess eminence in December, as she became India’s 84th Grandmaster, making her and Praggnanandhaa the world’s first-ever Grandmaster siblings. The 22-year-old is only the third female Grandmaster from India, after Koneru Humpy and Harika Dronavalli.

The India batting mastro becomes the first to score 50 ODI hundreds, and also breaks Tendulkar’s record for most runs in a World Cup. Virat Kohli smashed his 50th ODI century in the World Cup semifinal against New Zealand to move past his cricketing idol Sachin Tendulkar. He recorded the feat in the 42nd over as he flicked Lockie Ferguson behind square to complete the two that got him to his landmark 100. Kohli celebrated with a leap and a punch in the air, before taking off his helmet, raising his arms and bowing towards the stands, where Tendulkar and Anushka stood applauding the achievement. Kohli described the moment as “the perfect picture,” for having achieved the record, in front of his wife Anushka Sharma and Sachin Tendulkar, the man whose record he broke.

The ace Indian badminton men’s doubles pair of Chirag Shetty (right) and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy went where no Indian duo had before, becoming World No. 1 in the BWF rankings soon after securing a historic gold at the Hangzhou Asian Games 2023 in October. Satwik and Chirag had a remarkable 2023, winning the Badminton Asia Championships, Indonesia Super 1000, Korea Super 500 and Swiss Super 300 titles and finishing second at the China Masters. Their fabulous campaign was rewarded with a nomination for the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award.

Pat Cummins outshines Rohit Sharma to become Best Captain Of The Year

The year 2023 was a mixed bag for cricket, marked by triumphs and unmet aspirations for teams worldwide. Despite Rohit Sharma’s commendable leadership for the Indian team, the absence of major ICC titles remained unchanged.

Surprisingly, the title of the best captain for 2023 doesn’t go to Sharma but rather to Pat Cummins, the Australian fast bowler, who defied norms by taking the reins as captain. His appointment challenged the rare occurrence of a fast bowler leading a team. Nevertheless, Cricket Australia’s bold move paid off handsomely.

Cummins, at 30, not only justified the board’s faith but also led Australia to significant victories. Under his captaincy, the team secured the WTC title, dominated the Ashes, and triumphantly seized the World Cup trophy, making him a standout figure in global cricket. Although Cummins’ winning percentage in 2023 was slightly lower than Sharma’s, his collection of major ICC titles rightfully earned him the best captain title for the year.

Cummins’ international cricket career spans 193 matches for the Australian team, featuring 1708 runs from 158 innings, including two half-centuries. As a bowler, he has claimed 435 wickets in 239 innings across the same number of matches, cementing his status as a standout performer in the cricketing world. His leadership prowess emerged in 2023, elevating him beyond his prowess on the field. The Australian captaincy’s success under Cummins’ guidance, particularly the coveted ICC titles, positioned him at the forefront of leadership achievements in the cricketing landscape. As the year closes, cricket enthusiasts acknowledge Cummins’ unprecedented achievement as the best captain, a feat achieved not only through his exceptional cricketing skills but also through his exemplary leadership, guiding Australia to historic victories and marking his legacy in cricket’s annals.

Remarkable moments in Indian sports

Neeraj Chopra, the poster boy of Indian athletics

Adding yet another glittering gold medal to his illustrious medal haul, Neeraj Chopra clinched a gold medal at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in the men’s javelin event in August 2023. The 25-year-old from Haryana recorded a jaw-dropping effort measuring 88.17 meters in Budapest, Hungary to add the ultimate achievement to his burgeoning list of firsts. Neeraj’s performance helped him become the first-ever Indian athlete to win a gold at Worlds and also ensured that he had won every major track-and-field event be it — Olympics, World Championships, Diamond League, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games. He made the victory even sweeter by defending his Asian Games title in dramatic fashion in October.

Blind Women’s Cricket Team’striumph at IBSA World Games

The Indian women’s blind cricket team scripted history by securing gold at the IBSA World Games. India restricted Australia at 114/8 in the allotted 20 overs and then chased down the revised target of 42 in the fourth over in a rain-marred match to mark a milestone in Indian cricket. This was the first final in the World Games and India won the summit showdown defeating Australia by 9 wickets.

Rs 24.75 cr bid makes Starc most expensive player in IPL history

Australian fast bowler Mitchell Starc became the most expensive player in the IPL history with an eye-popping bid of Rs 24.75 crore, minutes after his skipper Pat Cummins fetched a jaw-dropping Rs 20.50 crore pay packet as pacers raked in the big moolah at the auction in Dubai on December 19. Not long after Cummins attracted a mind-boggling bid from Sunrisers Hyderabad, Kolkata Knight Riders raised the bar by offering even a bigger pay packet for the left-arm pacer, who last played in the IPL in 2015. Starc’s payout was significantly more than Sam Curran got last year when Punjab Kings paid a then record Rs 18.50 crore for the England all-rounder. “It was a shock, of course. Nothing I could have dreamt of. But no doubt, there will be some pressure that comes with the territory. But having the extra experience I have from my last IPL, hopefully, helps,” Starc said “Few ups and downs I’ve had before but this comes with the territory and I try to be successful and have as much impact as possible.”

Indian cricket on top of the World: No. 1 in all formats

With their five-wicket win over Australia in the first ODI of a three-match series in September ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, the Indian men’s cricket team became world number one in all three formats of the game - Tests, ODIs and T20Is. The Men In Blue displaced arch-rivals Pakistan from the numero uno position in the 50-over format. India became only the second team in men’s cricket history to occupy the number one spot across all three formats. Prior to this, only South Africa had achieved the feat back in August 2012. Led by Rohit Sharma, India sustained their dominance, securing top rankings across all formats throughout the year. India will have to wait for four more years for another ODI World Cup. Many members of the present team are likely not to be part of India’s squad in 2027. As India still recovers from the heartbreak, let’s have a look at the reasons why the Men in Blue fell short of their Australian counterparts.

Men’s Hockey: Glorious Asian Champions Trophy

India’s men’s hockey team scripted a remarkable turnaround in the Asian Champions Trophy final against Malaysia to win record fourth title at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium in Chennai. Trailing 1-3 in the opening half, they staged an inspiring comeback displaying sheer determination and prowess to secure a 4-3 win. Jugraj Singh (9’), Harmanpreet Singh (45’), Gurjant Singh (45’) and Akashdeep Singh (56’) scored the goals for India while Abu Kamal Azrai (14’), Razie Rahim (18’), Aminudin Muhamad (28’) netted for Malaysia.

India wins 9th SAFF C’ship title in thrilling final

The Indian men’s football team secured their ninth SAFF Championship title out of 14 editions in an exhilarating final against Kuwait. After a gripping 1-1 draw in extra time, India outplayed Kuwait 5-4 in a thrilling penalty shootout to secure the SAFF 2023 title.

Men & Women: Indian kabaddi reclaims lost crown

The 2018 edition of the Asian Games saw Indian kabaddi fall from its lofty standards as for the first time the men’s and the women’s kabaddi teams returned home without a glistening yellow-coloured medal around their necks. Iran’s meteoric rise in world kabaddi had denied India the opportunity to claim two certain gold medals in both categories. Hence, 2023 presented both the men’s and the women’s teams with the chance to make amends and restore pride. The women’s team led the way and held its nerve in an edge-of-seat thriller to pip Chinese Taipei 26-25 and regain the gold. The men’s team, under the leadership of Pawan Sehrawat, followed suit and took sweet revenge against Iran in the final to stamp its authority on world kabaddi yet again with a 33-29 win. India’s performance at the 2023 Asian Games soared to new heights, amassing a record tally of 107 medals. Notably, the country’s standout performance in athletics accounted for around 20 percent of the total athletics medals, showcasing remarkable growth compared to past editions.

Show Full Article
Print Article
Next Story
More Stories