The Indian sporting contingent had a busy February as it was involved in a range of sporting events. The month brought plenty of cheer for the Indian sports fans as individuals and teams put their best feet forward and won laurels for the country. From the women cricketers doing well in Australia to the grapplers taking on the best wrestlers on home turf good news just kept coming in. Here is a rewind to some of the best sporting moments from the month gone by.
India Women’s team progress into the semifinals of the T20 World Cup:
The Indian Eves enjoyed a great start to the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup. They stunned defending champions Australia in the first match of the tournament. The win was followed by victories against Bangladesh and New Zealand. With three wins in three matches, team India became the first team to qualify for the semifinals. It was a collective effort from the Harmanpreet Kaur-led side but two players have stood out. Ace leg spinner Poonam Yadav and dashing opener Shafali Verma. While Poonam has given her side timely wickets, Shafali has helped the team with brisk start. The well-rounded young unit is now being considered as one of the strong contenders to be crowned as the champions at MCG come 8 March. with plenty of confidence.
Sathiyan/Sharath win silver at ITTF Hungarian Open
The ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open is regarded as one of the most prestigious events in the international Table Tennis calendar. Achanta Sharath Kamal and Gnanasekaran Sathiyan clinched the silver medal in the men’s doubles event. The Indian duo had been in top form in their run-up to the summit clash and even defeated the top seeds Ho Kwan Kit and Wong Chun Ting of Hong Kong 3-2 in the semifinal. They faced the German pair of Benedikt Duda and Patrick Franziska in the finals, but were unable to get over the line, losing 5-11, 11-9, 11-8, 9-11 to bag the silver. Yet bagging the silver remains a stirring effort by the two paddlers. The event was slightly more special for Kamal as he won two medals there. He had also won the bronze in the mixed doubles with Manika Batra.
Leander Paes bids farewell at home
Tennis legend Leander Paes, who is retiring after the 2020 season, played his final two events on India soil in February. Partnering with Australia’s Matthew Ebden Paes first played the Maharashtra Open which was followed by the Bengaluru Challenger tournament. Paes did not enjoy much success at the Maharashtra Open as we got eliminated at the quarterfinal stage of the tournament. At the Bengaluru Challenger, Pace and Ebden brought their A-game to the table and qualified for the final of the event. It could have been a fitting farewell for the Indian tennis great to finish in India with a title in his hand but it was not to be. Pace and Ebden came short in the final. But as the final ended emotion and nostalgia took over. Paes who had mesemerised and inspired Indian tennis fans was finally done on the Indian soil. Indians had turned up in large numbers as they said their goodbyes to a true warrior.
FIH Pro League, India beat Australia
The Indian men’s hockey scintillating form from January carried over in February. After beating the Netherland in the second tie via a penalty shootout in January, February started on an equally high note the team as the team defeated world champions Belgium early in the month. But the real high for the team came when they defeated second-ranked Australia in a penalty shootout in the second tie after the game between the two sides ended in a 2-2 draw. It was India’s first win over the Kangaroos since 2016.
Even though the visitors took the lead in the match that was being held at Bhubaneswar, the Indians bounced back courtesy goals from Rupinder Pal Singh and Harmanpreet Singh. The Aussies equalized in the third quarter, which forced the game into the penalties, where goal-keeper PR Sreejesh kept his nerves to hand India a 3-1 win in the shootouts. The win will give the side the much-needed confidence as they move towards the Tokyo Games.
India’s rich haul at the Asian Wrestling Championships
The Indian wrestling contingent will spearhead India’s charge at the Summer Games later this year if their recent showing at the Asian Wrestling Championships is anything to go by. The grapplers won a record 20 medals across formats in the event that was held at New Delhi, with the women alone returning with eight medals, including three gold – a record. Though the star players Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat failed to impress and won bronze medals each, youngsters like Ravi Dahiya and Deepak Punia reaffirmed their class, winning gold and silver respectively. Sakshi Malik too won a silver, albeit in the non-Olympic category, which raised dreams of an Olympic appearance. However, she was later defeated by Sonam Malik in the trials, which ended her hopes of playing in Tokyo. The Wrestling Asian Championships were also defined by the rise of a number of promising wrestlers right from Gourav Baliyan, Ashu, Sonam, and Anshu.