The year 2019 saw a few historic sporting events that kept sports enthusiasts hooked. From England winning their maiden, albeit controversial, ICC Cricket World Cup title, sparking an intense discussion among cricket fans, shuttler P V Sindhu became the first Indian to win a badminton World Championships gold.
Business Standard brings you top five sporting events that wowed fans in 2019:
ICC World Cup 2019 final
Members of the England cricket team celebrate with the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 trophy. Photo: @cricketworldcup
The ICC World Cup 2019 final match between the England cricket team and New Zealand cricket team will be remembered as one of the greatest world cup finals ever. The 2019 world cup final had every ingredient to spice up cricket fans’ palate — from the match ending in a tie after 100 overs of intense play to the Super Over also seeing a tie. But it was England that eventually ended up on the winning side, thanks to the controversial ‘boundary-count’ rule.
While chasing a sub-par total of 241 set by Kane Williamson’s New Zealand side, Ben Stokes ‘almost’ steered England to a victory by scoring a fighting unbeaten 84 off 98 balls. This included the contentious four overthrow runs. The match went to the Super Over, where England scored an impressive total of 15 runs. Chasing it, New Zealand also scored 15 runs off Jofra Archer, who was playing his first World Cup final. As a result, the Super Over also ended up in tie, kicking in the so-called ‘boundary-count’ rule to decide the outcome. It was a heartbreak for the Kiwis and joy for England, as the latter had hit more boundaries than the former to score the same number of runs.
So far as fans were concerned, there was no winner or loser, as both sides were incredibly and equally magnificent.
Wimbeldon 2019 final
Though defending champion Novak Djokovic successfully defended his title, it took him good four hours and 57 minutes of fierce contest with 20-time grand slam winner Roger Federer. This was not only the longest Wimbledon singles final ever but also the only final or singles’ match where the set tie-break rule had to be used. Under this rule, upon reaching the score of 12-all in the fifth set, a classic tie-break was played between the two giants of the game which Djokovic won 7-3. The final score showed Djokovic having won the match 7-6(5), 1-6, 7-6(4), 4-6, 13-12(3).
Djokovic also became the first man since Bob Falkenburg in the 1948 Wimbledon Championship to win the title after being championship points down. He saved two while being down 7-8 in the fifth set. This was also the first time since the 2004 French Open that a man had saved championship points and won a Grand Slam title, and the first time that any singles player, male or female, had saved a championship point to win a Grand Slam title since the 2005 Wimbledon.
IPL 2019 final
Mumbai Indians (MI) skipper Rohit Sharma with his teammates celebrating with Indian Premier League 2019 winning trophy after win over Chennai Super Kings (CSK) at the Final cricket match at Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad. Pho
Led by Rohit Sharma, Mumbai Indians beat defending champions Chennai Super Kings in the grand finale of IPL 2019 by just one run at Rajiv Gandhi International stadium in Hyderabad on March 12. With CSK needing just two runs off the final ball, MI pacer Lasith Malinga trapped Shardul Thakur in front of the stumps, sending Mumbai into a celebration mode.
But it was not only the last ball that had balanced the match on the razor’s edge. Throughout the match, momentum had been swinging back and forth alternately placing CSK and MI in the driver’s seat. Earlier, CSK opener Shane Watson (80 off 59) had almost relived his last year’s heroics. But MI’s Jasprit Bumrah (2-14 in 4 overs), who won the man of the match, and teenager Rahul Chahar (1-14 off 4) must be credited for scuttling CSK’s bid for back-to-back titles.
P V Sindhu: Badminton World Championships
Ace badminton player PV Sindhu shows her gold medal that she won at the BWF World Championships, at a press conference, at SAI Gopichand National Badminton Academy, Hyderabad. Photo: PTI
In August 2019, P V Sindhu became the first Indian to win a badminton World Championships gold when she defeated familiar rival Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in a lopsided final Basel. The Indian shuttler won 21-7 21-7 in the summit clash that lasted only 38 minutes. This was two years after she had been robbed of a gold medal by Okuhara in an epic 110-minute final at Glasgow that had gone down as one of the greatest battles in badminton history. Sindhu finally buried the ghost of that heart-breaking loss with a completely dominating win over the same opponent. It was Sindhu's fifth World Championships medal — joint most among women singles players with former Olympics and world champion Zhang Ning of China — to go with two successive silvers and a couple of bronze medals.
Rugby World Cup winner
The world's third-largest sports event, Rugby World Cup — the first two being the Summer Olympics and Football World Cup — was also played in calendar year 2019. England entered the finals by defeating tournament favourites New Zealand. And South Africa, also known as Springbok, registered their finals spot by defeating Wales. The 2019 Rugby final was a reminiscent of the 2007 Rugby World Cup final, which had also featured England and New Zealand. The match saw South Africa claiming their third Rugby World Cup title with a 32-12 victory over the opponent. The 2019 Rugby World Cup registered a place in history books, and South African captain Siya Kolisi became the first black player to lead the team to championship. Earlier, when Nelson Mandela had celebrated with Francois Pienaar at Ellis Park in Johannesburg after the 1995 World Cup final, there was one black player in the Springbok team. When John Smit did the same, arm in arm with Thabo Mbeki in Paris in 2007, there were two.