Sports 2012: Reliving dreams
As one more year rolls over, it is perhaps the correct moment to look back and observe how the Indian sportspersons performed in 2012, which was one of the crucial years as London hosted the Olympics Games, catering thrilling action and drama in front of the world. TWF correspondent Supriyo Hazra highlights the year in the sporting arena
Indian cricket passed through rough weather in 2012 as skipper MS Dhoni and his brigade tasted failure in all formats of the game in both at home and abroad. Earlier in the year, Australia in their home completely outplayed India in the four match Test series as the hosts defeated the visitors in all the four matches of the series.
Australia defeated Sri Lanka to clinch the CB series. India could not reach the final of the tri-series.
Pakistan defeated Bangladesh in the final match to lift the Asia Cup. India failed to reach the final of the tournament. Hosts Bangladesh had also defeated India by five wickets in a crucial match of the series.
Pertinently, India were knocked out of the Asia Cup after Bangladesh pulled off a stunning win over Sri Lanka in the last group stage match of the tournament and booked a berth in the final clash against Pakistan.
Indian team toured Sri Lanka in the middle of the year to play five One Day Internationals and one T20 International. Dhoni and his men performed well in the island nation as the visitors defeated Sri Lanka by 4-1 margin in the ODI series and then went on to win the only T20 match during the tour.
World T20 debacle:
After winning the inaugural edition of the World Twenty20 in 2007, India's poor show in the tournament continued as the 'Men in Blue' failed to move beyond the Super Eights stage of the ICC World Twenty20.
West Indies defeated hosts Sri Lanka by 36 runs to lift the trophy.
Indian fans received another jolt near the end of the year when the touring England side defeated India by 2-1 margin in the four-match Test series.
England won a series against India on Indian soil after 28 years. Indian media and section of former cricketers demanded for immediate removal of Indian captain MS Dhoni from his job, raising a new debate in the cricket frenzied nation.
U-19 World Cup victory:
India Under-19 side defeated Australia Under-19 team by six wickets in the final of the ICC Under-19 World Cup final to lift the trophy in August this year.
Indian Premier League:
Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan's Kolkata Knight Rider's defeated MS Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings in the final to win the cash-rich T20 tournament for the first time in 2012. KKR ended Chennai Super Kings golden run in the tournament as Dhoni's men had won the last two edition of it.
Champions League T20:
Australia's Sydney Sixers beat Highveld Lions by ten wickets in the final match to lift the Champions League Twenty20 title this year.
The big names of Indian cricket, including Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, announced their retirements from international cricket, leaving a deep void and a golden legacy in the world of cricket. And at the end of the year came the announcement of Sachin Tendulkar to call it quits in the ODI format of the game.
India's great batsman Rahul Dravid, nicknamed The Wall, retired from Test cricket in March, finally bringing down the curtains on an illustrious 16-year long international career.
Indian cricketer VVS Laxman announced his retirement from international cricket in August that ended a glorious cricket career that spanned for 16 years.
Cricket lovers across the globe were taken by surprise on 23rd December when legendary Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar bid adieu to his illustrious One Day International (ODI) career that spanned for several years. Tendulkar made the announcement minutes before the selectors announced the team for the limited overs series against Pakistan starting Dec 25.
Tendulkar spoke to Board president N.Srinivasan and conveyed his decision to retire from the ODI games.
"I have decided to retire from the One Day format of the game. I feel blessed to have fulfilled the dream of being part of a World Cup wining Indian team," said Tendulkar in a statement.
Tendulkar's decision was surprising and yet on expected lines since he was battling with form. Since the 2011 World Cup, the 39-year-old cricketer has scored just 315 runs from 10 ODIs.
But still all his figures in ODIs remain world records and will be tough to beat. He has played 463 ODIs, scored 18,426 runs and made 49 centuries. He is also the first cricketer to hit a double century in ODIs -- 200 against South Africa at Gwalior in 2010.
After making his debut, it took nine ODIs from him to get his maiden ODI half-century -- 53 against Sri Lanka in Pune, 1990.
Tendulkar took the world by a storm when he was asked to open the innings against New Zealand at Auckland in 1994. He smashed 82 off just 49 balls.
Tendulkar had to wait 79 ODIs for his maiden century in ODIs -- 110 against Australia in Colombo, 1994. Tendulkar has scored most of his runs against Sri Lanka (3113) and Australia (3077).
He also hit the hundredth century of his career against Bangladesh in an Asian Cup match in March this year.
As far as other International cricketers are concerned, former Australian cricket team captain Ricky Ponting announced his retirement from international cricket in November.
South African wicket-keeper Mark Boucher announced his retirement from international cricket in July after suffering from an eye injury.
He was injured during a match between South Africa and English county side Somerset.
A statement read out by South African skipper Graeme Smith on behalf of Boucher said: "It is with sadness, and in some pain, that I make this announcement. Due to the severity of my eye injury, I will not be able to play International cricket again."
Sachin enters Parliament:
Sachin Tendulkar created history as he took oath as a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha on June 4. He became the first active sportsperson to be honoured with the position. Former Indian President Pratibha Patil had approved the names of Bollywood actor Rekha and Tendulkar for nominated seats in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian Parliament.
Both Bollywood actor Rekha and Tendulkar accepted their nominations.
Relief for Azharuddin:
The Andhra Pradesh High Court in November 2012 said the life ban imposed on former Indian skipper Mohammad Azharuddin by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on match fixing charges was unsustainable by law.
A division bench of the court set aside the order given by a lower court that had upheld the ban and struck down the life ban imposed on the former Indian batsman.
"I am very happy...I don't want to blame anybody," said Azharuddin after the verdict.
India-Pakistan bi-lateral series:
The nuclear armed neighbours finally resumed their cricketing ties as the Pakistan cricket team is touring India for a short series in December-January. India and Pakistan will play 2 T20 and 3 ODIs on the Indian soil between December 25 to January 6.
Both the countries have not played a bilateral cricket series since terror attacks in Mumbai in 2008.
India did not tour Pakistan in 2009 in the wake of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
Pertinently, both cricket sides played each other during the World Cup in 2011 and Asia Cup.
Return of World Cup hero:
Indian cricketer Yuvraj Singh, who recuperated from cancer, returned to cricket and showed good performance for the country in several series including the ICC World T20. He also played for India in the recently concluded Test series against England.
Early February, media reports revealed that Singh had been diagnosed with a malignant tumour in his lung when his physiotherapist Jatin Chaudhary said the cricketer had left for the US on January 26 and was undergoing chemotherapy in Boston at a cancer research institute. The news left everyone in India heart-broken.
When a tumour was first detected in October last year it was thought to be non-malignant, but later malignancy was detected and the player was taken to US for treatment.
The news of Yuvraj's illness triggered shock and sadness among his countless fans, but support started pouring in and fellow sportspersons wished good health for the man who contributed significantly last year in bringing India the World Cup title after decades.
He returned home in April this year after three months of treatment for a rare germ cell cancer in the United States. Yuvraj was resting in London for some time after undergoing treatment at the Boston Institute of Cancer Research. But what excited everyone was his comeback to the team as a cancer survivor and inspiring countless others fighting diseases and handicaps.
India defeated much higher ranked Cameroon in a tie-breaker clash in the Nehru Cup final at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium to lift the coveted football trophy for the third time. India beat Cameroon 5-4 (2-2) on penalties in the Nehru Cup final to emerge Champions for the third time in a row.
India rose three steps in the World FIFA rankings to 166, ahead of immediate neighbourhood Bangladesh 168, and posted 31st place in the Asian continent, as the World football body released its latest standing of the football playing nations in December. India began the year 2012 with 158th FIFA rankings in January and improved to 154 in February, but subsequently they slid to 169 in November following defeats in the AFC Cup championship and lately 0-2 defeat to Singapore in a friendly.
India's place is above Bangladesh (168), Pakistan (189), Sri Lanka (190) and Nepal (171) among the teams from the sub-continent.
India under Dutch coach Wim Koversman will begin campaign again when they play qualifying games in March for the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup. India in the group of Myanmar, Chinese Taipei and Guam in Group A.
Spain are top of World in rankings and Japan topped in Asia.
Dempo SC won the I-League in the 2011-12 season.
East Bengal defeated Dempo SC by 3-2 margin to lift the Federation Cup.
Spain thrashed Italy by 4-0 margin in the final of Euro 2012 in Ukraine to lift the trophy.
Men's Single Events:
Australian Open: Serbian Tennis star Novak Djokovic thrashed Rafael Nadal of Spain in an epic five set encounter to lift the Australian Open title. Novak defeated Nadal by 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5 margin to clinch the title.
French Open: Rafael Nadal defeated top-ranked Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 in a rain-delayed final that spanned two days to capture his seventh title in Paris.
Wimbledon: Swiss Tennis icon Roger Federer clinched his seventh Wimbledon title by defeating UK's Andy Murray in the final match of the men's singles event this year. Federer defeated his opponent from UK by 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 margin to win his 17th grand slam crown overall.
US Open: British Tennis star Andy Murray defeated Serbian Tennis icon Novak Djokovic by 7-6 (10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 margin in the US Open men's singles final to lift the title. British across the globe cheered as Murray became the first Britisher to lift the Grand Slam men's singles title in 76 years.
Olympics: British Tennis star Andy Murray defeated Swiss Tennis icon Roger Federer to clinch London Olympics men's single gold medal in 2012.
Women's Singles event: Australian Open: Victoria Azarenka of Belarus clinched the Australian Open title.
French Open: Russian Tennis star Maria Sharapova lifted her first French Open title in 2012.
Wimbledon: American Tennis star Serena Williams defeated Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in the women's singles final to lift her fifth Wimbledon title.
US Open: American Serena Willams displayed her much talked about "mental toughness" to beat Victoria Azarenka of Belarus by 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 margin to win her fourth US Open and 15th Grand Slam title at the Flushing Meadows this year.
Olympics: Serena Williams thrashed her Russian opponent Maria Sharapova in the final match to grab the Olympics women's singles gold medal
Indian's Tennis year:
Indian Tennis icon Leander Paes started the year with a bang as he clinched the Australian Open men's doubles title with his Czech partner Radek Stepanek.
Paes and Stepanek, however, lost the final match of the US Open men's doubles event to Bob and Mike Bryan of USA later in the year.
In the Wimbledon, Paes and his mixed doubles partner Elena Vesnina of Russia lost the Wimbledon final match to American pair of Mike Bryan and Lisa Raymond.
Mike and Lisa defeated the Indo-Russian pair by 3-6 7-5 4-6 margin.
Paes-Vesnina had also lost the Australian Open mixed doubles final against the pair of Bethanie Mattek-Sands of US and Horia Tecau of Romania.
Indian Tennis star Sania Mirza grabbed her second Grand Slam when she won the mixed doubles event of the French Open with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi this year.
Olympics: Indian mixed doubles pair of Leander Paes and Sania Mirza lost their quarterfinal match to the top seeded Belarusian pair of Victoria Azarenka and Max Mirnyi as they were knocked out of the 2012 London Games tennis event.
Shattering the dreams of millions of countrymen, India's doubles pair Leander Paes and Vishnu Vardhan played their heart out before losing to French duo of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Michael Llodra in a grueling pre-quarter final match in men's doubles at the London Olympics in Wimbledon.
India's other men's doubles pair Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna failed to produce a good account of themselves and made an exit from the mega event.
In the men's singles, India's Vishnu Vardhan, who was given a wild card at the 11th hour, went down tamely to another wild card Blaz kavcic of Slovakia to end his challenge.
The other Indian entry in men's singles - Somdev Dev Burman also made his exit in the first round losing to Jarko Nieminen from Finland 6-3 and 6-1.
Indian women's doubles pair of Sania Mirza and Rushmi Chakarvarthi made a first round exit from the 2012 London Games.
Indian Tennis touched new low this year ahead of the Olympics as senior players-Mahesh Bhauptahi and Rohan Bopanna-refused to team up with Leander Paes.
India's doubles specialists Bhupathi and Bopanna were handed a two-year ban by the All India Tennis Association (AITA) for their rebellion against the federation during the 2012 London Olympics.
Bhupathi and Bopanna defied AITA's decision of pairing them with Leander Paes ahead of the Games. Bhupathi and Bopanna held the AITA to ransom and finally managed to have their way.
But the AITA also struck back hard leaving them out for this Davis Cup ties and earlier said that they would stick with the young team for the next two years.
"It is ... decided not to consider Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna for selection to play for India until June 30, 2014," AITA Secretary Bharat Oza had said in a statement this year.
After regular pair Bhupathi-Bopanna refused to be separated for the London Games, the AITA decided to pair Paes with Vardhan and indicated action would be taken against Bhupathi and Bopanna.
Bhupathi is fighting a court battle in order to get his suspension revoked.
Indian Badminton star Saina Nehwal shined on the court in 2012 and won several titles including the Bronze medal at the London Olympics. Apart from the Bronze medal at 2012 London Games, Saina clinched the Indonesia Open Super Series Premier, Denmark Open Super Series Premier, Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold and the Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold this year.
Indian Badminton player Parupalli Kashyap made a dream run in the badminton men's singles competition of the London Olympics this year. The first Indian ever to play in the quarterfinals of an Olympics lost to top seed Lee Chong Wei 21-19, 21-11 in a 47-minute contest to exit the mega event.
Sebastian Vettel was never remotely challenged in the second Indian Grand Prix this year, winning it even more easily than he did the first a year ago.
London Olympics and India:
India within its standard put up a comparatively better show at the London Olympics this year which was again dominated by the US and China.
India sent its largest contingent consisting of 83 sportspersons from 13 disciplines and ended up collecting six medals including two silvers and four bronzes which is the highest number of medals earned from a single Olympic games so far.
However, if one takes gold medal as the measurement for achievement, then this performance is yet to surpass Beijing feat where India got a gold in shooting through Abhinav Bindra and a couple of bronzes by Vijender Singh in Boxing and Sushil Kumar in wrestling.
But the face of 2012 Olympics for India perhaps boxer Mary Kom. The Olympic bronze winning boxer , who says she wants to change the colour of her medal to gold in the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, arrived India to a tumultuous welcome at the airport.
"I am extremely happy that the whole country is supporting me. I hope to go for gold in the next Olympics," she said after etching her name in India's Olympic history.
Highlights of India's performance at the mega sporting event:
In London 2012 after shooter Gagan Narang started the medal hunt wining a bronze in 10 m Air Rifle for men his compatriot Vijay Kumar buttressed the number winning a silver in 50 m rapid fire pistol.
Thereafter shuttler Saina Nehwa, boxer Mary Kom and grappler Yuogeswar Dutt collected a bronze each while Beijing bronze medalist Sushil Kumar achieved a rare feat among the Indians by winning silver in 66 kg category wrestling on the concluding day. Dehydration ahead of the big bout perhaps was the cause he missed a gold.
Sushil Kumar thus emerged as the lone Indian to earn a medal in individual event in two Olympics and that too back to back.
Indian hockey team gave its worst performance in Olympics so far losing all their matches and finished 12th out of the 12 teams who took part in this meet.
Only in the first match they could put up some fight before losing 2-3. While their defence looked shaky always and crumbled whenever there was any pressure, their front liners failed to combine beside failing to cash in on the chances which came in their way.
Much was expected from Archery and Tennis. Both the events failed to live up to the expectation and displayed a poor show. Most of the archers failed to qualify for the final round while a couple of others made their exit from the second round only.
Deepika Kumari who became champion in one of the world series Archery meet, before this Olympic was totally off colour and put up a dismal show failing to adjust with the local condition. In individual recurve, Deepika after qualifying could not proceed beyond first round.
Similarly in tennis, Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna pair in men's doubles, Leander Paes- Sania Mirza in mixed doubles and Somdev Devvarman and Vishnu Vardhan, who were given wild cards here bit the dust in the first round itself. Only Leander and Vardhan could move up to 2nd round .
In comparison shooting and wrestling did well. Maintaining the tradition set up by Rajya Vardhan Singh Rathore who first won a shooting medal for India, a silver in Athens Olympics, and then a gold by Avinav Bindra at Beijing, Vijay Kumar and Gagan Narang rose to the occasion to get a silver and a bronze for the country respectively. These apart shooter Jaydeep Karmakar missed a bronze narrowly finishing 4th in 50 m prone position rifle for men.
In wrestling also Indian grapplers, who got a bronze in Beijing through Sushil Kumar produced a better show this time. While Sushil Kumar lived up to the expectation and enhanced one more step and finishing with a silver, Yogeswar Dutt begged a bronze. Sushil Kumar said the country would get a gold next time.
Both in Badminton and boxing true to the prediction Saina Nehwal and Mary Kom respectively gave a boost to the women sports bagging a bronze each. In men boxing another Indian medal hope Vijender Singh fought valiantly before bowing out from the quarter final narrowly.
Though India participated in eight other events including athletics, swimming, table tennis, weightlifting, judo and rowing, the Indian challengers here except Krishna Pooniah and Vikash Shive Gowda in women and men discuss respectively, bowed out of the competition losing in earlier rounds. Krishna and Vikash could reach the finals, but finished near the bottom.
International Olympic heroes:
Iconic American swimmer Michael Phelps ended his Olympic career on a grander note as he grabbed his fourth gold medal in the London Games and his 18th overall. His extraordinary performance made him one of the world's most well-known and popular Olympic athletes.
Jamaican sprint legend Usain Bolt scripted his name in the history of world athletics as he emerged as the only athlete in the planet to win back to back golds- both in 100m and 200m sprints.
Bolt, who won the titles in 100m and 200m in Beijing Olympics four years ago, repeated his feat at the London Olympics to settle the issue about who is the greatest athlete of all times. He also won gold medal at the 4×100 m relay event.
United States topped the medals table in the London Olympics with 46 gold medals (104 overall). China stood at the second spot with 38 gold medals (88 overall).
Dark night rises:
This piece of news is the shame of India. Hitting Indian sporting world hard, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended Indian Olympic Association (IOA) as the latter failed to host its elections in an independent fashion. The decision to suspend the IOA was taken by the IOC in its executive board meeting at its headquarters in Switzerland this year. The move triggered a commotion in Indian sports. And what does the ban mean? Well, it means an effective end to IOC funds for IOA and barring any Indian athlete from competing in Olympics under the tricolor. No Indian official can attend Olympic meetings.