12 Sporting Moments From the Last 12 Months That Made India Proud
2017 – a year that saw great sporting moments, not only in men’s cricket but in several other sports too.
Watching the Indian women’s cricket team create history during the World Cup final, cheering on Kidambi Srikanth as he climbed the ranks in world badminton, and literally biting our nails during the penalty shootout of the women’s hockey Asia Cup – these are just a few of the many great sporting moments in 2017 that made India proud.
The year that went by saw a cricket-loving nation throng stadiums to watch football during the Under-17 World Cup and switch to other channels to watch stars like Kidambi defeat the world’s best shuttlers.
So as we prep to ring in the new year, here’s a throwback to the 12 greatest moments in Indian sports from the last 12 months.
12. Prithvi Shaw’s Teenage Brilliance
A century on his first-class debut, followed by another one on his Ranji debut, 2017 has been a massive year for young Prithvi Shaw.
On 4 January 2017, a 17-year-old Shaw smashed a century on his Ranji Trophy debut match. He then followed it up with five centuries in seven first-class matches, second only to Sachin Tendulkar in number of first-class tons before turning 18.
In September, debutant Shaw became the youngest cricketer to score a century in the final match of the Duleep Trophy. With that, he also set a record of scoring a century in both his Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy debuts – a feat only held by Sachin Tendulkar, before the Mumbai batsman.
11. Saina Nehwal's Comeback Bronze
A major knee injury in 2016 had made Saina Nehwal consider retiring from badminton for good. However, the Indian shuttler made a strong comeback with a title in January this year.
Going into the World Championship as a 12th seed and coming off some low-key performances, they hadn’t been high expectations from the Indian shuttler. However, Nehwal proved her critics wrong with a bronze at the tournament. And three years after leaving the Gopichand Academy in her town Hyderabad and moving to the Prakash Padukone Academy in Bangalore, the Indian badminton ace returned to the aegis of her former coach Pullela Gopichand in September.
10. Pujara’s Stellar Season
At the start of the cricket season in July-August 2016, Cheteshwar Pujara had been dropped from India’s squad for the third Test against West Indies after scoring 62 runs in the first two matches. However, there was a long season ahead and the 31-year-old bounced right back in the next series New Zealand to prove his mettle. 373 runs in three Tests and the Pujara ended as India’s highest scorer in the series.
He carried that glorious form into the Test series against England – scoring two centuries and a half-century. Two mighty half-centuries against Bangladesh, and a double century against Aussies at Ranchi – and Pujara ended the season as India’s highest run-getter in a Test season.
Scoring 1316 runs in the 13 Test matches that home season, he went past Gautam Gambhir's aggregate of 1269 runs, which was the highest aggregate runs by an Indian batsman in a Test season.
9. Comeback Win for Men’s Hockey
Going into the quarter-finals after three consecutive pool stage games, India weren’t exactly favourites to win against World No 3 Belgium who had topped their pool in the Hockey World League Finals in Odisha. However, the Rio silver medallists were in for a surprise as the hosts managed to keep the scoreline at 0-0 at half-time and take a 2-0 lead in the third quarter. The Red Lions managed to come from behind and equalise the scoreline 2-2 at full-time. As the match headed in shootout, a goal by Harmanpreet Singh and a stunning save by Akash Chikte in sudden death helped India stun Belgium 3-2. India then defeated a depleted German-side to bag the bronze in the World League Finals.
8. Spotlight on Women’s Hockey Team
A penalty shootout that went into sudden death, and a place in the 2018 World Cup up for grabs – the final moments of India’s Asia Cup final against China was what tense movie climaxes are made of.
However, a stunning save by goalkeeper Savita after skipper Rani Rampal scored the final goal, not only assured India of that spot in the World Cup but also handed the team their first Asia Cup win in 13 years.
7. Another Virat Year
Virat Kohli took over as India’s Test skipper during India’s 2014-15 tour to Australia. And since then, the 29-year-old has not lost a single Test series as skipper. Starting with the tour to Sri Lanka in 2015, Virat’s India have defeated South Africa (3-0), West Indies (2-0 overseas), New Zealand (3-0), England (4-0), Bangladesh (1-0), Australia (2-1) and Sri Lanka (2015 & 2017).
And just before he headed for a break to get married, Kohli’s India defeated Sri Lanka 1-0 in the three-match Test rubber to equal England and Australia’s record of winning 9 consecutive Test series.
6. Women’s Cricket Change the Game
After fighting through the qualifiers, the Indian women’s cricket team led by Mithali Raj reached the final of the World Cup after defeating six-time winners and defending champions Australia.
The tournament saw some scintillating performances by Indian cricketers like Ekta Bisht, Smriti Mandhana and Mithali Raj. However, it was Harmanpreet Kaur’s unbeaten 171 that became the highlight of the tournament and also helped India reach only their second World Cup final ever.
5. Rohit’s Historic Double Hundred
In December, Rohit Sharma played his first ODI series as India’s captain however the first match was a complete washout for the hosts; Sri Lanka won by 7 wickets. However in the next game at Mohali, skipper Sharma went all guns blazing. Till then he was the only cricketer with two double tons. But in his second-ever game as skipper, the hitman got to the 200-run mark off just 151 deliveries and set the record for having scored three ODI centuries.
4. India’s First FIFA World Cup Goal
A 16-year-old from Haokha Mamang village in Manipur's Thoubal district might have always dreamt of playing football for his nation, but Jeakson Singh could never have imagined entering Indian football’s archives so early in his career.
The son of a humble vegetable owner scripted history as he scored India’s first goal at a FIFA World Cup in Delhi. The goal was an equaliser in India’s Under-17 World Cup match against Columbia, that the hosts eventually went on to lose 1-2.
3. Aizawl FC’s Dream Run
Aizawl FC’s fairytale run at the 2016-2017 I-League started with them not having a place in the tournament till the very last moment. The club had been relegated after finishing 8th in their maiden season. However, an AIFF stand-out saw several teams pull out of the tournament which gave Aizawl a last-minute spot in the league and Khalid Jamil – who had been sacked by Mumbai FC – was hired in a hurry.
Underfunded and under-appreciated, the team defied all odds to win the I-league title and enter Indian footballs’ record books for becoming the first Northeastern club to do so.
2. Kidambi’s Breakthrough Season
Just 12 months after being bed-ridden due to a surgery on his right leg, Kidambi Srikanth scripted history as the first Indian to win four Super Series titles in a year. Starting his winning spree at the Indonesia Open in June, the Indian shuttler went on to clinch titles at Australia, Denmark and France. At one point, India had four male players in the World’s Top 20.
No support from BCCI and hardly any funding, but that didn’t stop India’s visually impaired cricket team from maintaining their stellar record and retaining the T20 Blind World Cup title in February this year.
After beating Pakistan in the final by 9 wickets, India held to the record of being the only team to have ever won the T20 World event. Not just that, India have also won the the ODI World Cup (2014), T20 World Cup (2012) and Asia Cup (2016). However, the team is still not affiliated to the national cricket governing body, unlike its counterparts in England and Australia.
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