The New Year begins for Indian sports with quiet confidence of adding a few more winning chapters to its long, but chequered history.
Never before has India started the year with such big hopes as this one. The last year was one where India blossomed in many fields. The country did well in cricket, hockey, badminton, boxing, shooting and track and field events and also won quite a few medals.
India will have to harness these achievements in 2019 and make a strong statement that the country is now a force to reckon with in world sport.
The challenges have to be met this year and India must win – not just win but win big. Everything is in place for such a thing to happen. The approach should be sound and determination and will to win the key.
India’s cricketers are on the threshold of clinching a rare overseas series victory against the Australians. This would cap a splendid run for the Indian team in recent times.
Having already achieved the No 1 status in Test cricket, India now needs to stay there for long. After that will come the 50-over World Cup in England.
India start as one of the favourites but they must win it to underline their dominance. With Indian captain Virat Kohli at the peak of his career, he will need support from the other batsmen to consolidate India’s high ranking.
Meanwhile, a sport at which India were almost unbeatable many years ago, is creeping its way back into focus.
The Indian men’s hockey team did exceedingly well in the World Cup held in India. Their loss to the Dutch was narrow after having played spiritedly. They played splendidly throughout the tournament, well led by Harendra Singh.
The women’s team has also fared adequately to keep the fires burning for better hockey days ahead.
Though the badminton scene has been adequate throughout last year, this year has to be one of dominance. PV Sindhu maintained her high standards and the time is ripe for her to win more tournaments despite the strong China challenge.
Saina Nehwal should be back at her best too this year. The men’s section had an ordinary year but there are signs that they will be back in form.
India’s shooters had a dream run last year with many more promising individuals emerging. India can now look ahead with confidence as shooters like Anjum Moudgil, Apurvi Chandela, Manu Bhaker, Heena Sindhu and others find their target and put the country on the path to more glories.
The boxing arena is looking good as it has been for the last few years. Veteran Mary Kom was an inspiration for others last year with her grit and determination. The men’s section also did extremely well and many more achievements are hoped for this year.
The one silver lining last year was the performance of the Indians in track and field events. After years of being one of the worst teams in these disciplines, India’s suddenly sprung some surprises last year.
Neeraj Chopra has really come through while Hima Das has given much hope. If they keep getting their act together, then India can be a serious contender at the Tokyo Olympics.
Ultimately, support from the administration, proper facilities and infrastructure, good fitness levels and above all mentality of the players and support staff will be the key.
Add to that the often missing killer instinct and everything will fall into place.