Indian Cricket: The lull after a storm

Indian Cricket team recreated history by storming in to the finals of the cricket world cup and clinching it in style, ending 28 year long wait. MS Dhoni played the captains' knock to finish the thriller with a six. Indians went on top of the world and in the rankings. Then,Team India started the downhill trek. The World Champions flew back home from England with out managing to win a single match. The total rout stripped off their No.1 status in test cricket. It brought down the TRPs for the matches played by the team at home as well. At a time of gloom, Virender Sehwag lit the spirits once again, by scoring the second double century in ODI and surpassed the record set by master blaster Sachin Tendulkar.

Formula One- Revving up

India saw the first Formula One car race in its soil on 30th October 2011. The well organised mega show at the Budh International Circuit as the best racers in the world fought for supremacy in Indian soil with their high tech vehicles. Sebastian Vettel, who got the pole position made no mistakes and lifted the title as a 95000 strong crowd cheered up on. The Indian star Narain Karthikeyan finished 17th. After the controversies that lurked Commonwealth Games-2010 in New Delhi, it was a tough challenge for the organisers to host an international sporting event with out hitch. But the organisers won praise from all corners for the smooth finish of the mega sports event.

Indian Hockey- Fighting in and out

Indian hockey was more in news for its off field activities than the on field performance. In the first major tournament at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in May in Malaysia, the men in blue finished at sixth in a tourney of seven teams. Indian coach Harendra Singh lost his job and was replaced by Michael Nobbs. The foreign coach had his first major victory at Asian Champions Trophy when India thrashed Pakistan in the final. In the 'Champions Challenge I' in South Africa, India performed better scoring 29 goals, but lost to Belgium in the finals and couldn't qualify for the next Champions Trophy. The bitter feud between Hockey India and Indian Hockey Federation remained unsolved maligning the image of the national game. Controversies forced the Hockey India to pick different captains for different tournaments. Indian Hockey team awaits the biggest test in February when they try their luck in the Olympic qualifiers. The eight time Olympic Champions couldn't make it to the last Olympics.

Indian Football- New dawn?

Indian Football team ended the year at high by retaining the title in SAFF Championship, defeating Afghanistan in the final for 4-0. The present poster boy of Indian football Sunil Chhetri was declared man of the match. As India saw the rise of Sunil Chhetri who was chosen footballer of the year for his contributions, the face of Indian football Baichung Bhutia retired from International Football on 24Th August after fighting with injury for few years. AIFF appointed Dutchman Rob Baan as the Technical Director with a mission to change the future of Indian football and handed over the rein of Indian football team to Savio Medeira, the long time deputy of Bob Houghton. But the most memorable soccer moment in India was, undoubtedly, the three day trip of the Lionel Messi to Kolkata. Football fans thronged Salt Lake Stadium to see Argentina playing a friendly match against Venezuela.

Shooting Stars

Indian shooters continued their good form in 2011 as well. This year seven more Indian shooters qualified for the London Olympics, apart from Gagan Narang and Hariom Singh who had qualified for the high profile event in 2010. Few more shooters are expected to qualify for the Olympics as they take part in the Asian Shooting Championship in Doha in January. Olympic gold medalist Abhinav Bindra, Guangzhou Asian games gold medalist Ronjan Sodhi, Sanjeev Rajput, Hariom Singh, Vijay Kumar, Rahi Sarnobat, Annu Raj Singh and Shagun Chaudhary have booked the ticket for the next Olympics. Ronjan Sodhi made this year special for himself by retaining the world title and became number one shooter in the double trap. Gagan Narang was honoured with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award,the biggest sports award of India.

Boxing- hitting it out

A few more young boxers qualified for the London Olympics, making India's chances brighter at the event. Vikas Krishan, who clinched bronze medal in the World Championship, is considered the most promising among them. Four Indian boxers qualified for the London Olympics at the first Olympic qualifying tournament, the World Championship in Baku, Azerbaijan. Vikas Krishan(69kg), Jai Bhagwan(60kg), Manoj Kumar(64kg), and L Devendro Singh(49kg) qualified for the Olympics. This is the first time that four Indian boxers are getting through Olympic qualifiers. India's star boxer Vijendra Singh and Suronjoy Singh are waiting for the next qualifiers to ensure their place in the Olympics.

Tennis - Parting and Partying

An year of break ups in the tennis court saw the Indian Express duo Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati once again parting ways, this time forever! They started 2011 with the win in Chennai Open and reached the final of Australian open only to be humbled by the pair of Bob and Mike Bryan brothers. They won the Sony Ericsson open in April and got the number one team ranking in ATP world tour. The news of the break up came as a shocker to the Indian fans who were dreaming an Olympic medal at London from this pair. Rohan Bopanna has also decided not to pair with Aisam ul Haq Qureshi. Sania Mirza, despite recurring injuries, won three WTA women doubles in the year and reached the final stage in the French open women's doubles making it to the top ten in Women's doubles. Somedev Devvarman improved his ranking to 62, and put up a good fight against Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Indian badminton: Off-Season

Star player Saina Nehwal struggled through out the year with the only exception of entering in to the BWF super series final. In these disappointing months, Saina could win only the Swiss Grand Prix. The women pair of Jwalla Gutta and Ashiwni Ponnappa won the doubles bronze medal in the World Championship in London to be the first Indian pair to win a medal in the World Championship. They also reached the quarter finals in Korea and China open. In the men's singles the two top players of Indian Badminton Ajay Jayaram and P Kashyap had a mixed year of ups and downs. Junior players brought much hope to the game. P V Sindhu who started this year with 151st ranking, moved up-to 42nd position by the end of the year. She won the Maldives International Challenge, Victor Indonesia International Challenge, Swiss International and the Dutch Open. Arundhati Pantawane, another rising star, started the year as a runner-up in the National Championship. She was the runner-up in Czech International and Estonian International as well.

Archery- Power Women

Deepika Kumari's emphatic performance won Silver for Indian Archery Team at the World Championship and ensured an Olympic berth. Seventeen year old Deepika along with Laishram Bombayla Devi and Chekrovolu Swuro defeated the former world champion South Korea in the semi finals. The 2009 cadet world champion, Deepika is the first women archer to win two consecutive medals in the World Championships. Male archers had a disappointing year, though. Indian archers won 12 medals in the third Asian Grand Prix - eight golds, three silver and a bronze medal. At the end of the year, they disappointed with a dumb show in the Asian Championships. Indian team who won the second position in 2009, could win only two bronze medals and slipped to ninth position. Jayant Talukdar is the only male archer qualified for the London Olympics. The Indian male re-curve team started this year at the number one, but could win only one silver this year.

Weightlifting and Athletics:Year of Gloom

Indian Athletics saw another low as doping scandal descended on the entire team, just after the glory at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. The double gold medalist of Asian games, Ashwini Akkunji and her 4x100 meter relay partners Sini Jose and Mandeep Kaur are among those who were accused of taking banned drugs. National anti doping agency have banned these athletes for one year, almost ending their dreams of participating in the London Olympics. Priyanka Panwar, Jauna Murmu and Tiana Mary Thomas have also been banned for a year and long jumper Hari Krishnan was handed a two year ban. Five athletes have been qualified for the London Olympics, till date. Krishna Poonia (women's discus throw), Vikas Gaowda(men's discuss throw) Tintu Luka, Mayookha Johny, Gurmeet Singh (men's 20km walk), and Om Prakash Karhana are the athletes who got though the qualifiers. For Indian weightlifters the year 2011 was quiet disappointing. Till date, no Indian weightlifter has been qualified for the London Olympics.
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