2020 has been a strange year in which there have been more drops than increases, for many. And most of the sports stars were no exception. Reduced seasons, canceled tournaments, exhausting bio-bubbles and uncertainty have dominated the sports fraternity, thanks to the novel coronavirus pandemic. As we enter a new decade there is a lot to look forward to, especially when it comes to Indian sports.
Provided the Covid-19 pandemic is under control, we have a series of mega sporting events planned. The biggest of all is the Tokyo Olympics, which will be held in Japan after being postponed from 2020. Then there’s the T20 World Cup, an exciting season of the Indian Premier League, most likely at home, the final of the World Testing Championship, will end with an extended season of the Indian Super League, among other events.
Exciting cricket season ahead
Let’s start with the very popular sport in India – cricket. India ended 2020 on a high note with a memorable Boxing Day Test victory against Australia in Melbourne. In the absence of a few stars, including Captain Virat Kohli, the visitors, skillfully led by Ajinkya Rahane stepped up and delivered and silenced several opponents.
And with the series leveled at 1-1, India will head into the New Year’s test with great optimism. The fans too. India will kick off the new year with the much anticipated 3rd Test in Sydney and end the long Australian tour in Brisbane, after which a super exciting home season will begin.
The action will move to Ahmedabad and Chennai which will host England in a series of 4 tests in bio-secure environments. India will then begin their preparations for the T20 World Cup with a series of 5 T20I matches in Ahmedabad. All eyes will be on the reconstructed Motera stadium, the largest in the world in terms of capacity.
Will women’s cricket get back on its feet?
The Indian women’s cricket team is also expected to launch international assignments in March. There has been a lot of talk, and rightly so, around canceled tours and the lack of opportunities for the senior women’s team after the Australia tour canceled. We can only hope that the Cricket Control Council in India will get down to work and ensure that Indian women get high quality action ahead of the World Cup in 2022. Keep in mind that India has not played international cricket since the 2020 T20 Women’s World Cup.
The Indian Premier League will follow the English series, after which India will travel to England for a full series in August. The T20 World Cup will be held in India in October-November and India is also expected to visit Sri Lanka. Don’t forget the ICC World Test Championship final at Lord’s. India is in a good position to qualify for the final.
The major Tokyo Olympics
It can’t be bigger than that for Indian Olympians as the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics are set to begin. All roads will lead to Tokyo on July 23 as the organizers hope to host the tournament despite doubts about the Covid-19 situation.
India hopes for a rich harvest. The Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting delay in events caused a lot of hesitation, but elite athletes have found ways to keep themselves in check. Much uncertainty remains and it will be a challenge for Indian stars, but let’s hope for the best, right?
India is looking for medalists in a few key events including shooting, badminton, boxing, wrestling and hockey. There are quite a few medal chances and if the early signs are in order India has the opportunity to surpass their best score of 6 at the London Olympics.
Keep an eye out for the men’s and women’s hockey teams. As far as shooting is concerned, we have quite a few probable medals. Manu Bhaker (10m air pistol women), Apurvi Chandela (10m air rifle women), Anjum Moudgil (10m air rifle women), Abhishek Verma (10m air pistol men), Saurabh Chaudhary (air pistol tablet 10m men) are among the favorites. Let’s not forget the possibility to impress in the team events either.
All badminton hopes will be on PV Sindhu, who will lead at the Tokyo Games as the reigning world champion. The pressure of waiting will be on Sindhu but the young shuttle will be keen to change the color of her medal. Exclude the likes of Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth and Sai Praneeth even though they have yet to seal the qualifying spots.
Amit Panghal is the one to watch in boxing, while fan favorites Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia are the favorites to impress at the Tokyo Games in wrestling. We should also be wary of Deepak Punia and Narsingh Yadav, who are looking to complete a dramatic comeback after a few troubled years.
And will we have a tennis medalist? Couple Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan have to beat above their weight while Leander Paes, who will be considering a record-breaking Olympic appearance, won’t be ready to step down without a fight.
Can Neeraj Chopra make India proud of Tokyo? Well, recent results certainly suggest that he is one of the top contenders.
As the Indian senior men’s national team will have qualifying matches for the FIFA World Cup, AFC eagerly awaits, an exciting 11-team Indian Super League finish awaits as the season draws to a close. ‘in March. The I-League, minus Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, will kick off in January with the fate of the tournament pending.
Don’t miss …
It will be an interesting year for the shuttles as some young talents, including Lakshya Sen, will seek to stand out at the highest level. The likes of HS Prannoy and Kidambi Srikanth will look to bounce back while Sai Praneeth will be keen to extend his fine race. There are no Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan and Kento Momota and Viktor Axelsen’s next challenger might just be one of them coming from India.
It will also be interesting to see if Saina Nehwal can make a comeback and regain dominant form in 2021. Watch out for PV Sindhu. Star Shuttler might not settle for anything less than the number one spot.
With the launch of the Pro League, Indian hockey teams will also benefit from quality exposure. Once again, a lot of expectations are there for the men’s and women’s team at the Olympics. Can they deliver?
Let’s also pay attention to Sumit Nagal. The young Indian star will be keen to build on what has been a great 2020 for him. He has reached the second round of the US Open and has a wildcard entry to the Australian Open, which begins in February.