India Insight

Tendulkar exits, Anand slips during emotional 2013

December 27, 2013

Sachin Tendulkar bid a teary-eyed farewell to cricket while contemporary Viswanathan Anand lost his world chess crown in an emotional year for Indians in sports.

Forty-year-old Tendulkar, statistically the greatest batsman ever, walked into the sunset in November after his 200th test at his home Wankhede Stadium brought the cricket-crazy nation to a standstill.

“My life’s been 22 yards for 24 years. It’s hard to believe that wonderful journey is coming to an end,” an emotional Tendulkar said during a moving farewell speech as most Indians on and off the ground battled to hold back tears.

His phenomenal success on the cricket field and impeccable lifestyle off it made him a perfect role model for India’s burgeoning youth population.

It was hardly a surprise that hours after he quit cricket, the batting great became the first sportsperson to be nominated for India’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna.

India witnessed another end of an era in Chennai where Anand failed to win a single game in the world chess championship series against Magnus Carlsen, an opponent nearly half his age.

The baby-faced Norwegian wasn’t even born when Anand, who turned 44 in December, became India’s first grandmaster in 1988 and was just 10 when the Chennai native won the first of his five world titles in 2000.

Age, however, did not hold back the evergreen Leander Paes as the 40-year-old became the oldest man to win a grand slam title in September when he won the U.S. Open tennis doubles with Czech partner Radek Stepanek.

It was the third U.S. Open doubles crown and eighth major doubles title for the 1996 Olympic singles bronze medallist.

CORRUPTION

The mood in Indian sports remained sombre off the field as corruption in cricket once again reared its ugly head.

Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and two other Indian cricketers were arrested by the Delhi police on charges of spot-fixing, once again raising a storm in fans’ minds about the sanctity of the game they love so much.
The scandal extended to some of the game’s administrators and though the individuals are yet to be pronounced guilty, the reputation of the game again took a beating.

The Indian cricket team, though, did their best to uplift the mood by adding the Champions Trophy crown to their 2011 World Cup title.

India’s athletes, however, continued to suffer with the country still being banned by the International Olympic Committee due to the national Olympic body’s (IOA) reluctance to adopt good governance regulations.

After much dilly-dallying, the situation improved in December after the IOA agreed to amend its constitution to keep tainted administrators away, paving the way for a possible removal of the ban by the world governing body next year.

There was some good news elsewhere. PV Sindhu stepped out of Saina Nehwal’s shadow to emerge as India’s next badminton star and the inaugural Indian Badminton League, despite teething problems, was moderately successful in an otherwise cricket-crazy country.

The year also saw India bag the hosting rights for theĀ 2017 under-17 soccer World Cup and World Cup hockey the following year.

Both would provide India with an opportunity to prove it can host world-class events after the shambolic organisation of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

(Follow Sudipto Ganguly on Twitter @sudipto81)

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