It’s almost the end of 2017 and next year looks even bigger and better for sports fans all over the world. This wasn’t exactly an Olympic or World Cup year, but the same can’t be said about 2018. Let’s take a look at the biggest highlights of next year. Safe to say, many of us will be spending a lot of time in pubs and on couches, given the line-up.
The 2018 FIFA WORLD CUP
It’s time. The 31 teams have qualified, in addition to host nation Russia. With just half a year left for the 21st edition of the FIFA World Cup, the focus is slowly starting to shift to international football. Fever pitch will be reached between June 14 and July 15 in 2018, when Germany defend their World Cup title against the likes of Brazil, Argentina, England, Spain, and Portugal. There will be no Italy, no Netherlands, and no USA this time. But there will be Iceland – the tiny nation that took Euro 2016 by storm while reaching the quarterfinals and upsetting giants England.
Duration: 1 month
2018 MEN’S SENIOR HOCKEY WORLD CUP
For the third time since 1971, India will host the Men’s Hockey World Cup. The 14th edition of the tournament will be held in Bhubaneshwar, and it is scheduled to run from November 28 to December 16 in 2018. 16 teams will compete for the title. Currently, India is readying to play the semifinal of the World Hockey League against Olympic champions Argentina after defeating Belgium in the quarterfinals. India has won only 1 World Cup so far (in 1975), while Pakistan has won the most (4). Australia has won the last two World Cups in 2010 and 2014.
Duration: 19 days
THE 2018 WINTER OLYMPICS
Between February 9 and 18, the 23rd Winter Olympic Games edition will take place in Pyeongchang County in South Korea. They will be the first country to have hosted both the Summer and Winter Games. The Games will feature 102 events in 15 sports – including Alpine skiing, Bobsleighing, figure skating and snowboarding. 84 nations will be participating – including Pakistan and excluding India. A brief history: Norway is the leader over 22 editions, in terms of medals won (118 Gold, 111 Silver, 100 Bronze), with the USA in second place.
Duration: 17 days
INDIA’S CRICKET TOUR OF ENGLAND
The Indian cricket team – on a roll after 9 Test Series wins in a row – will now face its toughest phase since Virat Kohli took charge. India will tour South Africa, Australia, and England in a span of one year after a long home season. But arguably the most important test for India will be their long tour of England between July and September. As we know, England is the only country in which India plays a 5-test series in this day and age. They lost 4-0 in 2012 and 3-1 in 2014 and will have been beaten the most in England’s seaming, swinging conditions. The tour will start with 3 T20 matches, 3 ODI matches, and then 5 Test matches. For the record, Kohli averaged 12 in the 10 innings he played in England in 2014. But he averaged 78 when England toured India for a 4-0 whitewash in late 2015.
Duration: 72 days
THE INDIAN PREMIER LEAGUE 2018
The 11th season of the biggest domestic T20 league in world cricket will be back between April 4 and May 31 in 2018. India will have toured South Africa by then and MS Dhoni will be back in charge of his 'home' team Chennai Super Kings. CSK and Rajasthan Royals were the two teams suspended for two seasons over the spot-fixing scandal and now they will be back in 2018 – replacing the Rising Pune Supergiant and Gujarat Lions. Each team can retain a maximum of 5 players, including CSK and RR subject to their 2015 teams. Jonty Rhodes recently stepped down as the fielding coach of current champions Mumbai Indians. Until 2017, CSK was the league’s most successful team with two titles and four finals. But Mumbai Indians now has three titles (2013, 2015, 2017) under Rohit Sharma, after defeating Rising Pune Supergiant in a thriller by 1 run in the 2017 Final. The most shocking fact: Virat Kohli is yet to win an IPL title for RCB despite 10 attempts.
Duration: 57 days