India's top sporting moments in 2016
Virat Kohli's sensational form and India's unbeaten run in Tests
While he is often compared with the likes of Steve Smith, Joe Root and David Warner, Virat Kohli was in a different zone this year. How sensational had been his form was evident from the fact that he was the only batsman to feature in top three batsmen across formats after India's series win against England at Chennai. With each tournament, Kohli's stature grew by leaps and bounds and he seemed to be on a record-shattering spree.
Led by a skipper in such sublime form, Indian Test team displayed a brilliant show in 2016 where they didn't lose a single Test. India played 12 Tests in 2016 under Kohli's captaincy. In the process, India defeated West Indies 2-0 (4-match series), New Zealand 3-0 (whitewash) and England 4-0 (five-match series).
PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik create history at Rio Olympics
At the biggest sporting extravaganza, at a time when it looked like India might return without a medal after a forgettable start to the tournament, Sakshi Malik raised the Tricolour high as she became the first Indian woman wrestler to bag a medal at the prestigious Games. Sakshi won bronze in the 58kg category by pulling off a sensational 8-5 victory over Kyrgyzstani Aisuluu Tynybekova in the play-off bout.
On the other hand, after Saina Nehwal faced an early exit, PV Sindhu stunned the badminton fraternity with her incredible resilience and transformation. The 21-year-old toppled higher-ranked opponents to reach the final, where she was defeated by World No. 1 Carolina Marin in three grueling sets.
India's paralympians raise the bar at Rio Paralympics
After winning just two medals at the Games, expectations weren't too high from India's paralympians, who reached Rio to prove a point. While the much-fancied 117-member Indian contingent was criticised for winning only two medals, the Paralympians put a much better show by bagging four medals.
Devendra Jhajharia, Mariyappan Thangavelu, Deepa Malik and Varun Singh Bhati – were India's four paralympians who put a great show at Rio Paralympics. Jhajharia won the gold medal in men’s javelin throw F46, with which he also became the only Indian to have clinched two gold medals in Paralympics.
Thangavelu clinched a gold medal in men’s high jump T42 while Bhati won a bronze in the same event. Deepa Malik became the first Indian woman to bag a medal in Paralympics by clinching a silver in women’s F53 shot put.
Bengaluru FC create history
Led by India's talismanic striker Sunil Chhetri, Bengaluru FC became the first Indian club to enter AFC Cup final, Asia's equivalent of Europa League. Chhetri and his men defeated Johor Darul Ta'zim to enter the summit clash. The Bangalore-based club defeated defending champions 3-1 in the second leg of the semi-final in Banglaore sparking celebrations all over the country.
But in a heartbreaking loss, Bengaluru FC suffered a 0-1 defeat at the hands of Air Force Club of Iraq in the final. Despite the loss, many believed it was the beginning of a new era for the country's football.
Vijender Singh dominates pro-boxing with eight consecutive wins
Vijender's decision to switch to pro-boxing had raised many eyebrows. But the boxer from Haryana worked tremendously hard to make a name for himself, and proving the doubters wrong, he defeated Tanzania's Francis Cheka inside three rounds to defend his WBO Asia Pacific super middleweight title. Cheka retired hurt with four seconds remaining in the third round after receiving several brutal blows from the Indian boxer.
In his seventh pro boxing bout, Vijender defeated Australia’s Kerry Hope to enter the top-15 of the World Boxing Organization (WBO) ranking. With the comprehensive win, Vijender also lifted his first title of a fledgling professional career – WBO Asia Pacific super middleweight belt.
In his previous six bouts, Vijender defeated Sonny Whiting, Dean Gillen, Samet Hyuseinov, Alexander Horvath, Matiouze Royer and Andrzej Soldra.