India Eye Asian Games and Cricket World Cup Glory

The sports calendar in the coming months looks promising for talents to rise and shine at the international level

Follow us on Google News-khaleejtimes


Leslie Wilson Jr

Published: Tue 15 Aug 2023, 12:26 PM

Perhaps no country has embraced sport with the genuine affection that India has. The Indian people are passionately proud about sport, their athletes and of being a host. Over the past seven decades since its independence, India has enjoyed success in various sports and at different levels. It all began in 1948 when the men’s hockey team defeated Britain to win the country’s first ever gold medals at the Summer Olympic Games.

Since then many athletes have made the nation proud most notably Dyan Chand, Milkha Singh, PT Usha, Abhinav Bindra, Neeraj Chopra, Vishwanathan Anand, Mary Kom, PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Saikhom Mirabai Chanu, Karnam Malleswari, Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Ramanathan Krishnan, Ramesh Krishnan, Vijay Amritraj, Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Sania Mirza, Geet Sethi and Pankaj Advani.

The major home spectacle is without doubt the ICC ODI World Cup in 2023 where the final will be held at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, one of the world’s biggest stadiums with a capacity to seat 132,000 people.

The Indian cricket team, one of the biggest success stories of Indian sport, boast an impressive 53-29 win-loss record at the competition.

The team’s crowning moment came in 1983 when Kapil Dev’s ‘Devil’s defeated the West Indies by 43 runs at Lord’s to lift the trophy for the first time, and the Rohit |Sharma-led squad will have history on their mind when they take on the might of world cricket in the 13th edition of the tournament between 5th October and 19th November.

Playing on wickets that suit their style of cricket and before thousands of diehard fans would make India a big favourite to win the tournament although they will have to contend with strong opposition from Australia, England, Pakistan, New Zealand and South Africa in particular.

Australia are the most successful team in the World Cup which was launched by the ICC in 1975 with the men from Down Under having lifted the trophy five times. India have won it twice, the second time being in 2011.

However, the current squad looks good on paper with the likes of seasoned cricketers in Rohit Sharma (captain), Virat Kohli, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan and Yuzvendra Chahal and the upcoming stars Mukesh Kumar, Axar Patel, Suryakumar Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat, and Mohammed Siraj, to name a few.

So, by the looks of things, 2023 has the potential to deliver some big moments for Indian fans as the country celebrates its 76th year of Independence.

Yes, India is a country obsessed by sport and 2023 is year in which most of its one billion people have indulged themselves in hockey, cricket, boxing and athletics, to name a few.

In a year when India will host the 13th edition of the ICC ODI Cricket World Cup in October and November, it will also send one of its strongest squads to compete in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.

The year did not begin all that well for the country when its men’s hockey team could only finish ninth in the World Cup although the women salvaged some pride when they triumphed in the Junior Asia Cup 2023 in Kakamigahara, Japan, with an epic 2-1 win over the Republic of Korea in the final. This is the first time India have won the Women's Junior Asia Cup.

The Asian Games, which will be held in China in September-October 2023, will provide a significant opportunity to achieve excellence for Indian athletes who will be competing in several disciples including athletics, archery, badminton, boxing, cricket, hockey, shooting, weightlifting and wrestling.

Given the depth of its participation it promises yet another action-packed Games for India, where the country’s athletes will look to build on the momentum from 2021 where they won a record medals haul at the Tokyo Olympics.

The fact that this a year when various qualifiers for the Paris 2024 Olympics is already in full swing, Indian athletes will also aim to book their tickets to the Summer extravaganza.

Indian athletes have had acquitted themselves at the quadrennial event and has improved steadily over the last couple of decades. At the last edition in Jakarta and Pelambang 2018, India sent a contingent of 570 to compete in 36 different sports and returned with a best-ever haul of 69 medals, including 15 gold, 24 silver and 30 bronze.

It goes without saying that they current squad heading to China will hope to eclipse that number in an event that crowed India’s most famous female athlete, PT Usha, who captured 11 medals, including four golds and seven silvers.

Indian track and field stars also performed well in 2022 and top athletes Neeraj Chopra, Avinash Sable and Eldhose Paul will be under focus in 2023.

Javelin thrower Chopra, India’s first Olympic gold medalist in track and field, has several prestigious records to his name, including the junior world record, but had to settle for silver behind defending world champion Anderson Peters of Grenada at the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Oregon, USA.

However, he would bounce back and become the first Indian to triumph in the Diamond League with a record-breaking throw of 88.44m, which has set the tone for his medal launch in 2023.

Indian athletes bagged a total of 27 medals - six gold, 12 silver and nine bronze at the Asian Athletics Championships 2023, which were held in Bangkok, Thailand, from July 12 to 16.26. In terms of medals it equaled India’s their best-ever showing at the Asian athletic level.

Men's shot putter Tajinderpal Singh Toor, men's 1500m runner Ajay Kumar Saroj, the mixed 4x400m relay team of Rajesh Ramesh, Aishwarya Kailash Mishra, Amoj Jacob and Subha Venkatesan, women's hurdler Jyothi Yarraji, triple jumper Abdulla Aboobacker and women's steeplechaser Parul Chaudhary, collected India's six gold medals at the Games.

Overall, India finished only third behind powerhouses Japan (37 medals) and China (22).

Besides the Asian Games and world championships in other sports several prestigious quadrennial events are scheduled in the 2023 sports calendar. The Indian men’s football team had qualified for the AFC Asian Cup 2023, which was scheduled to be held from June 16 to July 16 in China but has since been moved to Qatar, where it is likely to be held late 2023 or early 2024 to avoid the summer temperatures.

After scoring a historic Thomas Cup victory in 2022 expectations will be high for the likes of PV Sindhu, Lakshya Sen, HS Prannoy and Kidambi Srikanth to deliver more success on the international scene.

More news from Supplements