Brilliant performances in individual events and stellar shows in team sports such as hockey, gave fans plenty of cheer this year.
Now the goal is Rio
Having beaten Great Britain and Holland, the Indian men’s hockey team finished third in the Hockey World League finals, where they were pitted against the toughest teams in the world.
The team has reached a world ranking of number six and qualified for the Rio, 2016 Olympics. Not just that, the Indian women’s hockey team has also qualified for the Rio Olympics – the first time they are participating in the event since Moscow, 1980, where they had made it on invitation.
This year, Saina Nehwal became the first Indian to reach the final of the World Badminton Championships. But she lost to Carolina Marin at the finals. Still, she wrested the World Number One position for a few weeks. The year also ended on a bright note for PV Sindhu, who won her third consecutive Macau Open title in 2015.
Pleased as punch
Star Indian boxer Vijender Singh turned pro this year, knocking out his first three opponents. Earlier this month, he notched up his third successive KO by thrashing Bulgaria’s Samet Hyuseinov in less than two rounds in Manchester. Way to go Viju!
Leagues of India
Even as IPL-style non-cricket extravaganzas consolidated their presence this year, fans welcomed a new league on the block with the pehelwans slugging it out in the Pro Wrestling League India. The kabaddi league and Indian Super League continued to have their backers and so did the International Premier Tennis League with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer being the star attractions. As expected, cricket notched up the viewership numbers on TV, but perhaps for the first time, fans were as enthusiastic about the Indian team winning bronze in the Hockey World League.
Bowling ’em over
2015 was when the maidens bowled over our bachelors in blue. Middle-order left-hand batsman Suresh Raina tied the knot with Priyanka Chaudhary, a banker, in April. Chennai-based wicket-keeper batsman Dinesh Karthik walked down the aisle with squash champion Dipika Pallikal in August.
Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh married girlfriend, actress Geeta Basra in October. He was followed by batsman Rohit Sharma marrying his erstwhile communication manager Ritika Sajdeh, in December.
The next in line could be Yuvraj Singh, who got engaged to British-born model-actress Hazel Keech at Bali in November.
Ash-win & friends
Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja spun a web around the Proteas, helping India complete a 3-0 whitewash of the top ranked team in the world. In the shorter format, India reached the semi-finals of the ICC World Cup held in Australia this year.
Emperor of the greens
Anirban Lahiri began 2015 in style, winning European and Asian Tour events in Malaysia and the Hero Indian Open. It helped him break into the top 50 of the world and pave the way for a direct entry into the Majors. In October, he also became the first Indian to qualify for the President’s Cup International Team. For next season, the champ has earned himself a US PGA tour card.
Double the joy
Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis won two Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon and the US Open, and seven other tournaments this year. They ended the year with a stupendous 55-7 record. Hingis also paired with the indefatigable champion Leander Paes, to win an incredible three Grand Slams in 2015: the Australian Open, the Wimbledon and the US Open.
From HT Brunch, December 27
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