It’s the end of the first week of October – and we live in the post Dhoni: The Untold Story era. The hagiographical saga has been consumed by India in earnest, partly demonstrating their weakness for nostalgia and complete dementia as far as his current form/status is concerned. In the meantime, sports around the world reached its most exciting crescendo since, well, the Olympics.
Let’s take a look at what I really mean:
RYDER CUP (Golf)
USA v/s Europe – the most traditional golfing contest in the world, once every two years. The Americans, despite consistently producing some of the finest players in the game, even all through Tiger Wood’s dominant years, had won only one Ryder Cup since 1999. The Europeans had swept six of the last seven, including the famous 2013 Miracle at Medinah. This year, though, was a different animal right from the first of three days. The Americans were already ahead by three points after two days and the foursomes and fourballs – and the last day had the one-on-one singles matches in store.
Europe had come back from a bigger deficit back in 2013. But this time, the Americans held firm. Rory Mcllroy was beaten by the gritty Texan Patrick Reed in perhaps the match of the tournament, bolstering further confidence in the Davis Love III-led contingent.
23 of the 28 ties were undecided as they went down to the 16th green, which means that the final scoreline of 17-11 was a bit flattering to USA. At one point, after Mcllroy’s loss, the score still read 10.5-9.5 – with the Americans leading in most of the other singles’ matches. All’s well that ended well however for Team USA – who rode the support of a highly volatile (and unnecessarily abusive) crowd at the Hazeltine National Club in Minnesota. Tiger Woods, the player we once knew, was vice captain (non-playing) of the winning team, and wasn’t allowed to participate in the team photograph later on.
Some stunning things happened in cricket this week. The not-so-stunning part was India winning the second Test in Kolkata and regaining the No. 1 Test ranking. This was expected, especially during their long home season, but many will take heart from the way they fought when they were tested. Many will also take heart that Shikhar Dhawan is injured and won’t open the innings in the next Test match at Indore. Many will take more heart from the fact that Rohit Sharma played a decisive innings of 82 to help India out of a sticky situation on a tough pitch.
The ODI squad for the 5-match series was selected. Suresh Raina makes a comeback, while the spin twins of R. Ashwin and R. Jadeja have been rested in order to recuperate for a tough Test series against England – revenge for 2012.
The stunning part: By Wednesday night, Australia became the recipient of an embarrassing record in ODI cricket. The top four highest ODI chases, and eight out of the top 10, are now against the Australians. South Africa, on the back of a rare stunning David Miller-blitz, chased down 372 at Durban. This is only second to their miraculous chase of 434 against a Ponting-led Australia back in 2006 in the deciding match of the series. With this win, too, South Africa sealed the series 3-0 with two to go, against a World Champion team sorely missing the services of Mitchell Starc.
Lewis Hamilton saw his championship hopes go up in flames after suffering another engine failure while leading the race – while his competitor and teammate Nico Rosberg finished third to extend his lead to 23 points with five races to go. It’s not much, but enough to send pessimism and negativity down the spines of the Hamilton camp, who’re questioning why only his engines fail on a regular basis in the entire Mercedes garage. Either way, it’ll be nice to see Nico Rosberg in front at the back end of the season for a change. A new champion is always good for the sport, more so if it’s a (German) driver who should have been the next Sebastian Vettel or…Lewis Hamilton.
It has been nine years since the last international Kabaddi World Cup. Not many know that India is the world’s absolute best in this one sport, and has dominated the last two World Cups – both on home soil in 2004 and 2007. They’ve beaten the second best both times, Iran, in the final, and are again expected to run away with this tournament against the same team in the final. The success of the Pro Kabaddi League has ensured this time that the Cup is getting enough coverage – what with the best players of each franchise representing the country under coach Balwant Singh.
12 teams will participate this time – from October 8th to October 22nd. The venue will be Ahmedabad at the new TransStadia stadium. India’s group has South Korea, Australia, England, Bangladesh (strong) and Argentina. While the other group has Iran, Kenya, Thailand, Japan, USA and Poland. The 7-time Asian Games gold medalists will not be happy with anything but an outright dominant performance, given their domestic pedigree.