A phase of transition gripped India’s national obsession of cricket both on and off the field but tennis star Sania Mirza and top shuttler Saina Nehwal ensured that sports other than cricket also had their moments of glory as they geared up for next year’s Olympics in a low-key 2015.
That cricket dominated headlines for most part of the year was hardly a surprise given the drama which unfolded in an episodic manner, be it on the field or inside the BCCI power corridors.
Whether it was Virat Kohli starting his Test captaincy reign in the middle of a high-profile series in Australia, thanks to MS Dhoni’s sudden retirement from Test cricket, or N Srinivasan waging a lone battle to save his chair before eventually bowing out from both the BCCI and the ICC, cricket was undoubtedly a soap opera that had the fans hooked.
The feisty and ferocious Kohli ushered in the new age Indian cricket team with an approach which had the purists divided.
The sight of an Indian team unabashed about getting under the opponents’ skin as much with words and gestures as with sheer superiority of skill was met with mixed response from both the fans and yesteryear stars of the game.
It was also a year which marked the end of an era with the retirement of swashbuckling opener Virender Sehwag and pace spearhead Zaheer Khan.
Away from the cricket field, it was a year in which Mirza was unarguably the biggest success story, her partnership with Swiss veteran Martina Hingis yielding a staggering nine titles on the tour -- two of them Grand Slams, a second WTA Finals title for the Indian, the world number one ranking in women’s doubles, and the International Tennis Federation’s women’s doubles champions of 2015.
The Mirza-Hingis duo was near invincible through the year, ending the season with a 55-7 win-loss record and nine titles together in all. The stupendous success catapulted the duo to world number one spot in women’s doubles.
Among the men, India’s ‘ageless wonder’ Leander Paes continued to bring laurels for himself by winning three Grand Slam mixed doubles titles, with Hingis being the common factor in his successful season.
In badminton, Saina Nehwal rediscovered herself on the court, becoming the first Indian woman to occupy the world number one spot, even if only for a brief period, before injury derailed her run to an extent.
The London Olympic bronze-medallist snared two titles and became the first Indian woman to make the finals of the All England and the World Championships.
Away from the glaring spotlight, the shooters were on mark, bagging seven Olympic quota places through various events and they would once again be the country’s prime medal hope in Rio de Janeiro.