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Sports In 2018: Your Month-By-Month Look At Most Important Events, Feats And Controversies

In an eventful year, cricket continued to dominate Indian sports but others played the catch-up game, slowly but surely gaining new grounds and winning new fans.

Sports In 2018: Your Month-By-Month Look At Most Important Events, Feats And Controversies
Sports In 2018: Your Month-By-Month Look At Most Important Events, Feats And Controversies
outlookindia.com
2018-12-31T16:37:09+0530

In an eventful year, cricket continued to dominate Indian sports but others played the catch-up game, slowly but surely gaining new grounds and winning new fans.

The excellence in badminton, wrestling, shooting, boxing, weightlifting and athletics, and not to forget the invigorating presence of hockey and football made Indian fans proud. The so-called fringe sports like kabaddi, tennis, etc. also made their presence felt.

Under a mercurial but at times bellicose captain Virat Kohli, Indian cricket made significant strides in establishing itself as the ultimate global superpower. Yes, it also gained notoriety thanks to many off the field issues.

In other sports, there were promises galore as witnessed in the Commonwealth and Asian Games. And rightly with many projects, including the 'Khelo India' movement and the introduction of Sports Bill, India can hope to see itself as true sports giant, befitting to the massive population it feeds.

Come 2020, the investments India has made in sports will see first returns, in success and in many firsts. But to be able to measure and appreciate and to complain, let's look how the year 2018 has been. Let's see how generous or inconsiderate this passing year has been towards Indian sports.

We will also need to relive how the world sports has been this past year. The usual annual and periodical events marked another year of jubilation and heartbreaks with new stars replacing old warriors as new champions.

Here's a month-by-month guide on how the sporting world unfolded in 2018.

January

For Indian fans, the year started with on a sombre note with cricket team losing the Test series in South Africa despite all the tall claims of being the finest touring side the country has ever seen. But the national blind and U-19 teams won the respective World Cups.

Elsewhere, Roger Federer defied age to defend the Australian Open crown for his 20th Grand Slam title, the most in history by a male player. Caroline Wozniacki claimed her first Major, thus ending years of heartache. But Indian doubles specialist Rohan Bopanna returned as a runner-up in Mixed Doubles.

In football, Indian Super League and I-League continued to chug along with European leagues fighting for their rooms. But January, as usual, was dominated by the winter transfer window. The protected Philippe Coutinho transfer saga finally came to an end with Liverpool releasing the Brazilian for Barcelona.

Saina Nehwal lost to World No 1 Tai Tzu-Ying of Chinese Taipei in the final of Indonesia Masters. Nehwal had beaten her Indian compatriot PV Sindhu in the quarters. Back home, Carolina Marin led Hyderabad Hunters to Premier Badminton League title. In the Indian Open, Sindhu lost the title to Zhang Beiwen of United States.

February

A lean month, but Indian team's South Africa safari kept fans occupied. After the disappointment in the Test series, Kohli & Co salvaged some pride by winning both the ODIs and T20Is in South Africa. Down Under, Australia won the Tran-Tasman Tri-series involving England and New Zealand. In women's cricket, touring India beat South Africa in both the WODIs and WT20Is.

In the Badminton Asia Team Championships, both the Indian men's and women's team failed to go past the quarter-final stage. Sameer Verma and Parupalli Kashyap won Swiss Open and Austrian Masters respectively.

Norway set a new record for the highest number of medals won at a single Winter Olympics at Pyeong Chang 2018.

March

An under-strength Indian cricket team won the Nidahas Trophy in Sri Lanka with Rohit Sharma stepping up in the absence of rested Kohli. But the women's team lost the tri-series at home, Australia beating England in the final. In Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and the West Indies qualified for the 2019 World Cup.

Bengaluru FC won the Indian Super League in their maiden campaign, beating Chennaiyin FC in the final. Minerva won the I-League with 35 points, which was two more than NEROCA.

Indian wrestlers returned with eight medals, including Navjot Kaur's gold medal in women's 65kg, from Asian Wrestling Championships at Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan.

The new season of Formula One started with the Australian Grand Prix with German Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) winning the race in Melbourne.

April

The 11th season of Indian Premier League (IPL) started with the return of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals from the two-year ban. With cricket world glued to the cash-rich league, out of favour Pakistan toured the West Indies for a short ODI tour. Meanwhile, Indian women's team beat their English counterparts in the bilateral ODI series at home.

India won a total of 66 medals to finish third in the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Performances of Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, shooter Anish Bhanwala, boxer Mary Kom, paddler Manika Batra, quarter-miler Anas Yahiya, lifter Mirabai Chanu were the highlights. There was also the thrilling Saina Nehwal-PV Sindhu final.

In the Badminton Asia Championships, H S Prannoy and Saina Nehwal won bronze medals in their respective singles events in Wuhan, China. But the best was Kidambi's Srikant's climb to world number in male's singles ranking.

Real Madrid and Liverpool entered the final of UEFA Champions League, beating Bayern Munich and AS Roma respectively.

May

Mahendra Singh Dhoni lifted the IPL trophy for the third time as the Chennai Super Kings captain after Aussie Shane Watson blow away Sunrisers Hyderabad in the final.

In football, Pep Guardiola's Manchester City lifted their English Premier League trophy breaking hosts of records, including those of most points most wins and most goals. Arsene Wenger leaves Arsenal at the end of the season after leading Gunners for more than two decades.

Real Madrid won record-extending 13th UEFA Champions League title and their third title in a row. Soon after, Zinedine Zidane resigned as the manager of Europe's most successful club.

Neeraj Chopra broke the national record at the Doha Diamond League with a throw of 87.43 meters.

Second Grand Slam of the year, French Open started at the Roland Garros with Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep as top seeds in the men's and women's singles events. Serena Williams, bidding to equal Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles, made her first appearance at a Major after giving birth to her daughter in September 2017.

Golden State Warriors won the NBA with Kevin Durant winning the MVP.

And summer window transfer opened.

June

Ajinkya Rahane led India in the historic one-off Test against the newest Test playing country Afghanistan at Bengaluru. Then, India commenced the tour of British Isles. India beat Ireland in both the T20Is, which was dubbed a dress rehearsal for the England series, with Kuldeep Yadav wreaking havoc.

But Indian women, starting as the overwhelming favourites, lost to Bangladesh in the final of Women's Twenty20 Asia Cup. The defeat was India's first ever loss in the Asia Cup. During the tournament, Mithali Raj became the first Indian cricketer to amass 2000 runs in T20Is,

FIFA World Cup started in Russia with Germany as the defending champions. An estimated $14.2 billion was spent on the hosting of the 32-team event, making it the most expensive World Cup ever. For the first time, the World Cup also used the video assistant referee (VAR) system.

In badminton, shuttlers Srikanth Kidambi and PV Sindhu lost in the semis of Malaysia Open.

Rafael Nadal won his 11th French Open crown while Romania Simona Halep claimed her first Grand Slam title.

July

India's tour of England for 5 Tests, 3 ODI and 3 T20I started. India won the T20Is series but lost the ODIs. Kuldeep Yadav took his first 5-wicket hauls in T20Is and ODIs during the series even as Dhoni played his 500th international match (2nd T20I).

In the West Indies, Bangladesh made history by winning both the ODI and T20I series.

France won their second FIFA World Cup, defeating Croatia in the final. Germany, for the first time since 1938, failed to advance past the first round. Luka Modric was the best player, while England's Harry Kane top-scored with six goals. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo returned home early. French forward Kylian Mbappe became the second teenager, after Pele, to score in a World Cup Final.

Novak Djokovic and Angelique Kerber won the Gentlemen's and Ladies' singles title. The Kevin Anderson-John Isner semi-final, which lasted six hours 36 minutes, was the second longest men's singles match at Wimbledon and the third longest in the history. In the women's section, for the first time in the Open Era, all top ten seeds lost before the quarter-finals.

Hima Das won the women's 800m event at the IAAF World U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland. The 18-year-old thus became the first Indian to win a gold medal in a track event in the championship.

Sindhu finished runners-up in both the Thailand Open and BWF World Championships in Nanjing, China. It was Sindhu's second silver and fourth medal at the Worlds. But Spaniard Marin, who is also the reigning Olympic champion, became the first woman to win three World titles.

After spending nearly a decade in Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo moved to Juventus after signing a four-year contract with the Serie A club.

Geraint Thomas of United Kingdom won the Tour de France.

August

India won the third Test against England after losing the first two matches. The first match at Edgbaston marked England's 1000th Test. Rishabh Pant his Test debut in the third match, while Hardik Pandya took his maiden five-wicket haul in the same match. The match also witnessed England fast bowler James Anderson taking 100 wickets against India in Tests.

In the Asian Games, India recorded its best-ever haul of medals, with 69 medals. There were many first for India, but Neeraj Chopra's throw of 88.06m to win gold was the highlight. Vinesh Phogat became the first Indian female wrestler to win gold. Manjit Singh and Jinson Johnson finished 1-2 in men's 800m while Hima Das broke the national record in women's 400m. Tajinderpal Singh Toor created new Games record in men's shot put. And young shooters created hit the bullseyes.

The new season of English Premier League and other leagues in Europe started with Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea) becoming the world's most expensive goalkeeper weeks after the record was set by Alisson Becker (Liverpool).

September

India lost the remaining two Test matches to concede the series 1-4 to England. In the fourth match, Virat Kohli scored his 6000th run in Tests. He was the top scorer in the series with 593 runs. Hanuma Vihari made his Test debut in the fifth Test. In the match, Anderson set the record for most wickets by a fast bowler. It was also Alastair Cook's final Test.

After the disappointment in England, the Rohit Sharma-led India beat Bangladesh in the final of Asia Cup to lift the trophy for the seventh time. In a Super Four match, against Pakistan, openers Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan stitched a record 210-run stand for the first wicket in the Asia Cup history. In another Super Four match, against Afghanistan, Dhoni led India for his 200th ODI match as captain.

Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka won the US Open titles. The women's singles final between Osaka and Serena was overshadowed by controversy after the legendary American's outburst. Osaka became the first Japanese and second Asian women's Grand Slam champion.

Indian shuttlers failed to make a mark in the prestigious Japan Open, China Open and Korea Open tournaments.

In the 58th National Open Athletics Championships, long jumper M Sreeshankar and steeplechaser Avinash Sable broke the national records in Bhubaneshwar. Sprinter Sanjit completed the double by winning both the men's 100m and 200m events.

Newly conceived UEFA Nations League started with league phase involving 55 teams.

October

India won both the Test matches against the visiting West Indies. In a record-breaking home series, Prithvi Shaw became the youngest Indian score a century on Test debut. India registered their biggest win by an innings in the first match. It was India's 100th Test win at home.

India won two of the first four matches. In the tied second ODI, Kohli became the fastest to score 10,000 runs in ODIs. India won the fourth match by 224 runs to register their biggest victory over the Windies.

At the World Wrestling Championships in Budapest, Bajrang Punia won a silver medal in men's 65kg freestyle category. But he became the first Indian to win multiple medals at the Worlds. Pooja Dhanda became only the fourth Indian woman grappler and first in six years to win a medal at the World Championship.

India shared the Asian Cup Hockey trophy with Pakistan after the final was called off after heavy rain in Muscat.

In badminton, Sourabh Verma won the Dutch Open. Saina Nehwal lost the final of Denmark Open to Tai Tzu-Ying.

Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha died in a helicopter crash outside the club's stadium.

Elina Svitolina of Ukraine won the season-ending 2018 WTA Finals in Singapore.

Lewis Hamilton finished in fourth at Mexican Grand Prix, but it was enough for him to clinch a fifth driver's World Championship title.

Conor McGregor was beaten by Khabib Nurmagomedov. Then seconds after his victory, the Russian jumped the cage to charge the Irish camp while McGregor was involved in a bust-up.

November

India wrapped up the ODI series against the Windies and then won all three T20Is. In the second match, skipper Rohit Sharma became the first batsman to score four centuries in T20Is. Third T20I was India's final international match of the year at home.

Virat Kohli returned to lead the team again in Australia. India and Australia shared the T20I honours 1-1 after the second match was declared a no result due to rain.

Harmanpreet Kaur became the first Indian woman to hit a T20I century during a Group B match against New Zealand of the ICC Women's World T20. But India failed to reach the final after losing to England in the semis. The benching of former captain Mithali Raj became a controversy. Australia won their fourth world title.

In boxing, Mary Kom became the first woman boxer to win six gold medals in the AIBA World Boxing Championships. India won four medals in the Delhi event. Other medalists were Sonia Chahal (silver in 57kg) and Simranjit Kaur (bronze in 64kg) and Lovlina Borgohain (bronze in 69kg).

Magnus Carlsen beat challenger Fabiano Caruana in a 12-game match to defend the World Chess Championship title in London.

Alexander Zverev defeated Novak Djokovic to claim the season-ending ATP Finals. Croatia defeated France to win Davis Cup.

In badminton, Sameer Verma won men's singles title at Syed Modi International. Saina Nehwal settled for silver in the women's singles event. Lakshya Sen won a bronze medal in the BWF World Junior Championships.

Ravi Kumar won the silver medal in the 57kg freestyle event at World U23 Wrestling Championship in Bucharest.

The FIH Men's Hockey World Cup started in Odisha with 16 teams competing for the glittering trophy.

December

After the tied T20I series, India needed a strong start to the Test series. And they just did it by winning the first match. But the visitors submitted rather meekly in the second match in the four-match series. Before the start of the series, India were dealt a severe blow with teen sensation Prithvi Shaw picking up an injury.

But India registered one of their most important wins in recent times, by beating Australia in the Boxing Day Test. It marked India's 150th Test wins, among many others feats.

Continuing cricket, in the IPL player auction, Varun Chakravarthy and Jaydev Unadkat earned big fat paycheck.

Luka Modric ended the Lionel Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo Ballon d'Or duopoly. Norway striker Ada Hegerberg won the inaugural Women's Ballon d'Or but her biggest professional night was overshadowed by "Can You Twerk?" question from French DJ Martin Solveig.

Manchester United sacked Jose Mourinho as the manager of England's most successful club after the worst possible start to a Premier League season in 28 years.

Sindhu made history by becoming the first Indian to win the season-ending BWF World Tour Finals tournament. She defeated Nozomi Okuhara of Japan. Sindhu, who had lost in the summit clash to another Japanese, Akane Yamaguchi in the last edition.

India's wait for Hockey World Cup glory continues as Manpreet Singh-led young side crashed out after losing to the Netherlands in the quarters. Belgium won their maiden title after defeating the Dutch in the final.

River Plate beat Boca Juniors in an all-Argentinean Copa Libertadores final to win South America's biggest club trophy. The second leg of the final was moved to Spain after the attack on Boca team bus.

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