One would imagine that sports could not reach a peak even half as high as July 14, 2019. It was a day when cricket and tennis lifted sport into the realm of spiritual gratification – the Cricket World Cup Final and the Wimbledon Final collectively made every single human in this world a sports fan. Back on the day, Ben Stokes was the name nobody would forget.
40 days later, we are back to where it all started. Ben Stokes, again. A Sunday on par with July 14th, a Sunday to end all Sundays. The only difference being: Only 1 title was won on August 25th.
Let’s take a look at the 3 TOP talking points of Super Sunday:
ASHES TO ASHES
If July 14th gave us the greatest ODI in the history of cricket, August 25th gave us one of the greatest Test matches in the history of the game. The third Ashes 2019 test at Headingly ended in the most glorious way possible. It eclipsed the legendary Ian Botham Headingly Test from 1981, with Ben Stokes single-handedly keeping England alive in the series after they were bowled out for 67 in the first innings. No team in 128 years had won a Test after being bowled out for less than 70 in the first innings. At the end, it was Stokes, again, standing at one end, putting together a phenomenal 76-run partnership with last man Jack Leech. Stokes’ 135* instantly became one of the greatest Test innings ever played – along with Kusal Perrera’s 153* earlier this year against South Africa in similar circumstances, VVS Laxman’s 281 and Brian Lara’s 153*. Stokes creamed the Aussie bowlers all over the park, taking England to their first 1-wicket win in almost 70 years. The Test match was so electric that people almost forgot that the Indian cricket team was winning far away in the Caribbean.
GOLD FOR SINDHU
After falling short in 7 major Badminton Finals stretching back to 2016, PV Sindhu was in danger of becoming the “almost girl” of Indian Badminton. Everyone knew she had it in her, but somehow, the gold medals eluded her. Two BWF World Championship silvers further added to her legend. It was all starting to get a bit too much. On Sunday evening, far away in Basel, Sindhu had again reached another World final after storming through her draw. And she was up against her old Japanese rival, Nozomu Okuhara, who had beaten her back in Glasgow in 2017 in Sindhu’s first World Championship final. The other Japanese champion, Akane Yamaguchi, who had dominated Sindhu all of 2019, lost only in the second round, clearing the path for Sindhu to make a run. In less than an hour, everything changed. 21-7, 21-7 was as comprehensive a win as ever in a final, and Sindhu became the first Indian badminton player to win a World Championship gold medal. It was no fluke. She had gotten closer, more than everyone else, every year, and this was a culmination of years of heartbreak and grit. A day earlier, Sai Praneeth won the bronze medal after losing in the semifinal, making it a historic weekend for Indian badminton. With Tokyo 2020 Olympics just a year away, this is just the boost that Sindhu, an Olympic silver medalist, needed.
BUSINESS AS USUAL IN THE WEST INDIES
Perhaps the least momentous of the three major events on Sunday was Team India’s first Test win since the World Cup. An overseas victory is normally a big deal, as is a Jasprit Bumrah fifer and a rare Rahane century, but West Indies isn’t the force they used to be. Nevertheless, after a first innings wobble, when India were 25/3, the team recovered well to post 281, and then set West Indies a 417-run target in the fourth innings. Otherwise a gritty test team, the hosts collapsed to 15-5 before getting bowled out for 100, giving India their first official World Test Championship victory. The Test held good signs for India – an Ishant Sharma fifer, a fifty by Kohli, a 90 by Hanuma Vihari and a fifty by Jadeja. Just like that, the controversies over team selection – no R. Ashwin, no Rohit Sharma – had been forgotten.
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