2019 is one of those years where competitive sports feels a bit like breathing for fans around the world. It is a year before the Summer Olympics, yet 2019 has more than enough action and events to count as a season as exciting as those having a major quadrennial tournament. The calendar is full and has a bit of something for everyone. Here’s a look at some of the major sports competitions you won’t want to miss in 2019:
The fifth season of the Indian Super League is currently on a Christmas and an international break. It will resume in the second week of January and go on till March. In what has been the biggest and most exciting league-stage phase so far, 59 matches have been played – with reliable horses Bengaluru still at the top, but surprises like Mumbai City and NorthEast United seem to be stepping up this year. Only a third of ISL 2018-19 remains – will Bengaluru finally win its first ISL title after dominating the roost for almost two seasons? Or will there be another mega upset in the finale? Before you know it, it’ll be time for ISL 2019-20, which is slated to begin in September for more than five months.
AFC Asian Cup 2019
The 17th edition of the premier football tournament in Asia – consisting of 24 teams from 5 sub-confederations – will take place from January 5 thin UAE. India is part of the prestigious quadrennial tournament; their group A has hosts UAE, Thailand and Bahrain. The defending champions are Australia (2015) – the winner of this title gets a direct place in the 2021 FIFA Confederations Cup. Led by Sunil Chhetri, India is ranked 96; the highest-ranked team is Iran at 36 followed by Australia at 40. The top 2 teams from each of the 6 groups will qualify for the knockouts – the round of 16, followed by the quarterfinals, semifinals and the finale on February 1st . The ISL will schedule its dates according to India’s performance at this tournament.
2019 Formula One Championship
Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel will renew their rivalry less than four months after Hamilton lifted his 5th Drivers’ Championship title. In March, the 2019 F1 season will kick off with the Australian Grand Prix, while the season-ending glittering Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on December 1st will be the finale of what could be a record-breaking season for motorsport.
VIVO Pro Kabaddi 2018-19
The sixth season of the Vivo Pro Kabaddi League is currently underway, with the Gujarat Fortune Giants and Bengaluru Bulls leading their respective zones. The Giants, U Mumba, Dabang Delhi, and the Bengal Warriors have already qualified for the playoffs after 123 hard-fought Kabaddi games. Defending champs Patna Pirates, UP Yoddha and Telugu Titans are still in the running for the final playoff spot. We are in the last few days of the zonal stages, following which there will be the final week of the 3-month-long-season that ends on January 5th. Can Pro Kabaddi’s most successful team Patna Pirates win its fourth title? Or will Gujarat Fortune Giants go one better than their runners-up performance last season?
ICC Cricket World Cup 2019
It’s time for the biggest cricket tournament in the world. The 12th Men’s Cricket World Cup, consisting of 10 teams and 48 matches in total, will begin on May 30th and go on till July 14th in England and Wales. This is the first ODI World Cup in this region after 1999. The teams: England, India, Australia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, New Zealand, West Indies, Bangladesh, Afghanistan. India, currently ranked 2 in the world behind the hosts, are the joint favorites going into the tournament with England. Will India win its third World Cup, or will England win their first? Will South Africa finally shed its bridesmaids status, or will Pakistan throw up a Pakistan-like surprise? Just five months to go – the wait is almost over!
FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019
Only the 8th edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup will unravel for a month from June 7 to July 7 in France (incidentally the country that won the 2018 Men’s FIFA World Cup). The no. 1 ranked the United States women’s football team is the defending champion and the most successful women’s international team with 3 titles to their name. The favorites this year, though, is second-ranked Germany (two titles in 2003, 2007). Japan has reached the last two World Cup finals (and won in 2011), while hosts France are also a threat.
Hockey India League 2019
After missing 2018, the sixth season of the Hockey India League is slated to return in the final months of 2019, with a quicker five-a-side format replacing the normal 11-a-side format. Three trophies will be up for grabs – men, women and mixed teams. Five separate teams have won 1 title each so far, with the Kalinga Lancers as defending champions, and the Delhi Waveriders pulling out due to financial reasons.
Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2019
The 28th edition of the annual international men’s field hockey tournament will take place in March. Australia, who were dethroned as World Champions earlier this month, are the defending champions – the defeated England in the 2018 Final. India last won the Cup as a joint-holder in 2010. India finished fifth in 2017.
Premier Badminton League 2018-19
The 23-day fourth edition of the PBL has kicked off, with 9 teams, 8 top-10 players, and the finale slated in Bengaluru on January 13, 2019. Five Indian cities will host the competition, with world-famous players like Viktor Axelsen, Kidambi Srikanth, Parupalli Kashyap, PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal and Carolina Marin all in the running for the 5-crore team prize. The defending champions are PV Dinhu’s Chennai Smashers, who defeated the Mumbai Smashers in the final.
The 2019 Indian Premier League – known as the biggest T20 cricket league in the world – is slated to take place before the World Cup between 29 March and 19 May 2019. The 12th season of the VIVO IPL will have the same 8 teams – with the big auction just having taken place a week ago. England all-rounder Sam Curran and uncapped Varun Chakaravarthy went for big money, as did left-armer Jaidev Unadkat. Yuvraj Singh was bought for 1 crore by the Mumbai Indians. MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings are the defending champions. David Warner will return to runners-up Sunrisers Hyderabad, while Steve Smith might return to the Rajasthan Royals in preparation for the World Cup.