It has been quite a historical week. A lot of records were broken, or are in the process of being broken. And we’re not just talking cricket. The world today awoke to the news of…
108 years. It had been 108 years since the Chicago Cubs had won the World Series. Generations had come and gone – never to see their beloved team achieve baseball’s ultimate glory. On Wednesday night, the Cubs ended that wait in the most memorable way possible. Down 3-1 in the best-of-seven series against the Cleveland Indians (who haven’t won the Series since 1948), the Cubs won three in a row – culminating with this week’s historical game, perhaps one of the greatest ever played in the history of the sport. They blew a 3-run lead, before the rain Gods came, and eventually triumphed 8-7 in the 10th inning. The result, for some reason, seemed inevitable going into Wednesday, given the momentum, swing and the mood across Chicago. It was more a question of ‘when’, rather than ‘if’. The players came mighty close to giving their loyal fans heart seizures through the night, but came out on top in a beyond-exciting contest. Fans gathered outside Wrigley Field and wrote messages and names on the walls, delirious with joy, rivaling the kind of stunning outpour that Leicester football club fans showed earlier this year during their miraculous run up to the EPL title. This fairytale baseball story perhaps wasn’t as compelling as the football one, but it was still the longest-standing record in the sport’s history. And now it’s gone.
Andy Murray won the Vienna Open, inching ever so close to achieving his ultimate goal: the No. 1 ranking in the era of Novak Djokovic. He has to now win the Paris Masters, the last of the season before the season-ending World Tour Finals in London, to reach the top of the world. No matter what Novak does at Paris, if Murray wins it, he will have achieved arguably his finest moment – one that didn’t look possible earlier this year, or ever before that. Djokovic, meanwhile, resorted to spiritual help to help regain his focus and hunger, hoping that he could still end the year at the top after suffering an unsuccessful second half of 2016.
Elsewhere, in Singapore in the season-ending WTA Tour Finals, World No. 5 and pint-sized powerhouse Dominika Cibulkova won the biggest title of her career, defeating World No. 1 Angelique Kerber in straight sets in the final. Kerber ended the year on top, after unseating Serena Williams during the US Open.
History was made by a Bangladeshi Test side, as they drew the home series 1-1 against England – their first victory over a side not named West Indies and Zimbabwe. Teenage spinner Mehedi Hasan took 19 wickets in his first two Tests, and Bangladesh played with great belief and distinction to finally come of age. England landed in Mumbai soon after, on the verge of a 5-match test series with the Indians – who’re fresh from beating the Kiwis in both forms of the game.
But what happened in Sharjah was arguably a greater achievement. West Indies, after almost winning the first Test and taking the second deep into the last day, outplayed Pakistan over five days to win the third Test – their first away victory over a team ranked above them since 2007. It was only their third such victory since the turn of this century. This will go down as the Brathwaite Test match – opener Kraigg, and not Carlos, who had earlier won them the T20 World Cup this year. Brathwaite became the first opener in Test history to remain undismissed in both innings – a century and a fifty, taking his team to victory with 5 wickets in hand while chasing 153 in the fourth innings. This was Jason Holder’s first Test victory as captain, a match in which he took a 5-for in the second innings to dismiss Pakistan for a paltry total. This was only Pakistan’s fifth loss at “home” in the last 10 years. They won the series 2-1, but will feel fatigued at the end of a long season that involved them reaching the No. 1 ranking, drawing with England in England and doing their nation proud with some solid, fighting performances.
The much-awaited ‘middleweight’ series between Australia and South Africa has begun, too. In the first Test at Perth, the South Africans, without AB de Villiers, are already on the ropes after being dismissed for 244. David Warner continued his spectacular 2016 with a run-a-ball fifty, and by Monday, we will know if Australia take the lead in the series. In the last six series between these teams, the away team has been victorious – a refreshing change from the home-bully Test cricket trend.
With two races to go, Nico Rosberg’s lead is down to 19 points, after Lewis Hamilton stormed back to win the United States Grand Prix and the Mexican Grand Prix. Rosberg has won 9 races to Hamilton’s 8 this season, and can still win his first title if he finishes second to Hamilton in both the remaining races. But if he crashes out even once, it could be all over for Rosberg, which would be perhaps the most heartbreaking thing to ever happen to him after his superb post-break comeback in 2016. Hamilton is gunning for his third consecutive title with Mercedes, and his fourth overall, but has to make one of the most decisive comebacks in the history of the sport to overcome the deficit. Rosberg is still the favorite, what with his consistency and habit of finishing on the podium, and his no engine-failure luck, in stark contrast to his teammate. On November 13th in Brazil, we will be a step closer to crowning the champion.