Indian sports looking suddenly bright all over
These are bright times for Indian sports. First it was the grand spectacle provided by the Test cricketers with their series win over Australia, then came the good news from the football front with India beating Myanmar, a team always difficult to beat in its home territory and finally there was the graceful rise of badminton star P.V. Sindhu in true champion style beating the Olympic gold medallist Carolina Marin for the Indian Open title.
Rarely have things gone this way. Perhaps it has to do with changing perspectives, a new found desire of our sportspersons to excel and working hard towards that goal. The Cricketers showed that in big measure and definitely deserve a big pat on their backs for maintaining a winning streak that saw them win 10 of the 13 Tests played in recent times. There are no two opinions that the series win over Australia, particularly after being one Test down has been the most thrilling of the lot. Observers believe that not in recent times has a Test series gone this close or as eventful as this one. In a way cricket was the winner, particularly Test cricket in an age when the curtailed forms of the sport has been gaining unprecedented following.
True the India-Australia series would have been lot more memorable but for all that bits of controversial moments that led to lot of bad blood, media flare and the consequent ramifications. As they say, all's well ends well but there were moments in the series when one thought the only thing that remained to complete the mess was a free for all. So close did the players go, or so it seemed from the run of anger and mounting sledging. But then it was not all about questioning each other's intentions that caught the eye as much as the performances which must have gladdened many an Indian heart for there were so many. Be it batting or bowling, India produced some gems like Pujara and Rahul as also Jadeja and the surprise packet Kuldeep Yadav. For once, Indian armoury seem to have enough amunitions to deal with any situation, something that should auger well when the squad readies for challenges overseas. India has proved its ability at home and now the focus or the attention in the cricket world would be how well this Number-one Test squad face to the intrigues of foreign pitches.
Interesting days are ahead. And that speaks for Indian football too. As Coach Stephen Constantine emphasises, away-wins are the ones to count. He was referring to the narrow win over Myanmar in the Asian Cup qualifier. Though ranked below India in the rankings, things do not work that way as the Coach was to say, adding it was about making the best of the chances that crop up. India still have to collect six more points to qualify but a good beginning is a great step ahead. At a time when the AIFF has been making all kinds of steps to raise the stock of football in the country including the latest thought of launching a four-nation tournament, such wins can mean much. Considering the groundswell of support for the sport in the country, a few positives could push up the ratings in the public eye.
Talk of positives and the name P.V. Sindhu comes to the fore. Ever since her grandstand show in Rio Olympics by reaching the badminton final and grabbing the nation's attention when dismay was ruling all over, this Hyderabadi girl has been the centre of attention where ever she went. One witnessed this in Chennai at a five-star hotel a few months ago when the IOA had its meeting. Sindhu had come with her father to receive IOA's special cash award for her Rio show. No sooner was she spotted in the hotel lobby than came curious fans from all over to grab a selfie! She deserved every moment of that attention and the Indian Open win now only cements her place as one of the finest players that India has produced in a long time. A final is always a tense affair and beating the Olympic champion Marin and in the process avenging her Rio defeat was at once a stunning performance. The country will hope to see many of her grand deeds in the days to come. Surely players like Sindhu and Saina Nehwal have taken Indian badminton to world class level, something that should be the envy of most other sports in the country.