SPORTILLIEGNT PICKS THE TOP FIVE SPORT MOMENTS OF 2011
The year 2011 has been a good year for sport all over. Especially if you are an Indian sports fan. This year we have seen some exceptional performances and some heart breaking ones. We have seen some stars become superstars and some fading away slowly. But most importantly, this year has shown us once again that sport is unpredictable and indomitable and that in sport victories or defeats don’t matter as much as the spirit. Here, Sportilligent picks the Top five sport moments of 2011 –
1. WORLD CUP COMES HOME
Nothing, I repeat nothing, can beat the high of your country winning the coveted World Cup. For me, India winning the World Cup has to be the moment of 2011. On the 2nd of April, 2011, in front of a packed Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni hit a Nuwan Kulasekara delivery for a lofted six, a six that created history. India had won the World Cup! After 28 years and six failed attempts, India had finally brought back the Trophy home. In doing so, we became the third country after Australia and West Indies to win more than once and the first nation to win a World Cup on home soil. Every moment of that night is cherished Zaheer Khan’s early breakthroughs, Yuvraj Singh’s all-round show, Virat Kohli’s steady temperament and most importantly Gautam Gambhir’s tenacity and MS Dhoni’s sheer talent. Sri Lanka, the worthy opponents, put up a spirited performance setting a target of 274 runs aided by a classic Mahela Jayewardene century. In response, India lost both its openers to the wily Lasith Malinga. But then came Gambhir’s composed 97 and Dhoni’s combative 91 which saw India win by 6 wickets. The celebrations that ensued, the tears of joy, the screams, the victory lap, will forever be etched in my memory. Team India winning the World Cup will always be a special moment for India fans, first because it is our favorite sport cricket and secondly because this put to rest a hundred doubts about our ability and performance.
2. THE YEAR OF THE DJOKER
When it comes to tennis, 2011 was undoubtedly the year of the Djoker. Novak Djokovic played the game on a different level all together making this one of the best seasons in Men’s tennis. Coming into the year, nobody could have imagined such a tough competition for the top spot as a certain Swiss and Spaniard have always dominated it; but this Serb came up with an inspired show to end the year perched comfortably atop the ATP Ranking Table. Even though he diminished towards the fag end of the year and was unable to finish on a high, there is no taking away his spectacular form this year which actually gave way to a new term synonyms with Purple patch – “the Djokovic Patch. Here is some number crunching – In 2011 Djokovic has won three Grand Slams and ten ATP Titles, accumulating a record prize money of over 12 million; for the first seven months, he was unbeaten with another record-breaking 41-match winning streak; his final win-loss standing this year is 70-6, of which 5 matches have been lost only in the last 4 months of the year! Now that is what we call a performance
3. SEBASTAIN VETTEL – YOUNGEST F1 CHAMPION TWICE OVER
In 2010, he captured the imagination of the motorsport world becoming the youngest Formula 1 champion at only 23 years of age. In 2011 when he started his Title defense in style winning the season opening Australian GP. Since then there has been no looking back for 24-year old German Red Bull racing driver, Sebastian Vettel. Creating history is one of his many hobbies - in 2006 he became the youngest F1 driver to drive in a Grand Prix meeting, in 2008, aged 21 years, 2 months, 11 days, he became the youngest driver to win a F1 race at the Italian GP, in 2009 he became the youngest F1 Championship runner-up, in 210 he became the youngest F1 Champion and in 2011 he became the youngest F1 double Champion. His utter domination in 2011 has been a pleasure to watch winning 11 races with 15 pole positions. He may be only 24, but Seb Vettel is definitely a sporting legend in the making.
4. BARCELONA CROWNED EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS, ONCE AGAIN
Confession: I don’t watch a lot of football. I follow it occasionally, especially during the major tournaments, but don’t avidly pursue it. The only time I will actually stay up at night and watch a football match is when Spain or Barcelona are playing the finals of the some tournament. Therefore Barca’s 3-1 victory in the UEFA Champion’s League 2011 is featured in my Top 5 sport moments. On the night of 28th May, Barcelona and Manchester United met at the Wembley Stadium in London to play what was called the repeat of the 2009 Rome finals which Barca had won 2-0. Barcelona dominated most of the match with Pedro Rodriguez starting off proceedings with a goal in the 27th minute, almost immediately Man Utd. star Wayne Rooney netted one past Valdes to level scores. When the second half of play started, however, Barcelona launched an attacking play with Lionel Messi scoring taking the lead in the 54th minute with a brilliant goal from 20 yards out, followed by some exceptional footwork by David Villa for the third goal in the 69th minute. The Red Devils were unable to recover from this onslaught and at the final whistle, Barcelona were crowed European Champions for the fourth time.
P.S. This victory catapulted Barca into the semi-finals of the FIFA Club World cup which they won as well, defeating Brazilian Club Santos 4-0.
5. ENGLAND SNATCH THE TEST MACE
The England cricket team started the year on a high winning the coveted Ashes on Australian soil. And as the year progressed, they kept going from strength to strength. The BBC Sports awards of the year winning team managed to become the strongest custodians of Test Cricket by playing and winning some amazing matches. Under the two Andy’s – Captain Andrew Strauss and Coach Andy Flower, England has become an impressive Test side, and the team to beat especially on home soil. For someone who is a Test cricket loyalist, it was satisfying to see a team playing the five-day format so dedicatedly, even if the team they were trashing was your favorite one. And after that one series called the Pataudi Trophy (I will not name the opponents!) they became the Number One Test team in the world, a no mean feat considering it is the pinnacle of glory in cricket occupied by only two teams before them.
HONORABLE MENTIONS –
- VIRENDER SEHWAG - BREAKING RECORDS, BREAKING BOUNDARIES
On the 8th of December when Virender Sehwag smashes the West Indian bowlers all over the park at Indore, he not only broke the record for the highest Individual score in ODI cricket, he broke the boundaries between what is possible in cricket. The cricketing fraternity largely believed the Viru would be the first man to get to 200 but he was preceded by his guru, Sachin Tendulkar. As long as the record is with an India, both Tendulkar and Indian fans will be happy.
- RENAISSANCE, THE ROGER FEDERER WAY
Roger Federer had one of the worst years of his career. For the first time in eight years he failed to win a single Grand Slam, his ranking plummeted to No 4 and his age reached the dreaded 30. Yet the fact that he is featured on this list is a tribute to his resilience and his sheer willpower. In the last three months of 2011 he showed exactly why he is called the Greatest Tennis player when he overcame physical and mental barriers to win three back-to-back Masters Titles including the prestigious season-ending ATP World Tour Finals. He looked fit, he looked hungry and he looked rearing to go. Surely 2012 augurs well for Federer fans.
- FORMULA 1 COMES TO INDIA
After the disastrous organization of the Commonwealth games in 2012, the sporting world at large doubted India’s ability to hold a global sporting event. But the ambitious project of the Jaypee Group to built a world-class Formula 1 track in India and the efforts of the Indian sporting community to hoist a Grand prix bore fruit when on the 30th of October, India successfully flagged of the India GP at the Buddh International Circuit. This track, widely praised for its facilities and construction also won a prestigious FIA Awards for best new track. It was indeed a proud moment for Indian sport lovers.
- ALL BLACKS WIN RUGBY WORLD CUP
- DRAVID RESURGENT, HIGHEST TEST RUN SCORER OF 2011
- SANGAKKARA – THE HIGHEST RUN SCORER IN INTERNATIONAL CRICKET