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SPORTSMAN OF THE DECADE
(CRICKET)

Mahendra Singh Dhoni

M. S. Dhoni started the decade on the perfect note, leading India to much-awaited glory at the 2011 World Cup and following it up with the Champions Trophy crown in 2013. While Dhoni the captain is synonymous with the change in the mindset of Indian cricket in general, his unconventional wicketkeeping and emergence as arguably the best finisher in One-Day Internationals have been somewhat overshadowed by his captaincy skills. Dhoni’s ability to stretch a chase deep and – more importantly – finish it off in near perfection has been the highlight of his celebrated career. Despite being unable to end his international career on the perfect note – India lost in the semifinals of the 2019 World Cup – Dhoni, just like his batting, will always be remembered for timing his exits across formats to perfection.
Batting (2011-2020)
TESTS
Matches: 37, Innings: 63, Runs: 1951, Highest Score: 224, Average: 34.83, 100s: 2, 50s: 13.
ODIs
Matches: 178, Innings: 144, Runs: 5040, Highest Score: 139 not out, Average: 50.90, 100s: 3, 50s: 36.
T20Is
Matches: 73, Innings: 61, Runs: 1176, Highest Score: 56, Average: 45.23, 50s: 2
Wicketkeeping (2011-2020)
TESTS
Matches: 37, Innings: 67, Dismissals: 126, Catches: 113, Stumpings: 13.
ODIs
Matches: 178, Innings: 176, Dismissals: 219, Catches: 151, Stumpings: 68.
T20Is
Matches: 73, Innings: 73, Dismissals: 77, Catches: 46, Stumpings: 31.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Virat Kohli

From being the youngest member of India’s 2011 World Cup-winning squad towards the start of the decade to emerging as the most prolific batsman — if not cricketer — in the world by the end of it, Virat Kohli has had an astonishing 10 years. Having amassed more than 20,000 runs in international cricket, with 66 hundreds — that’s 5,000-plus runs more than any other batsman – Kohli’s consistency across all three formats has stunned aficionados, connoisseurs, contemporaries and greats from the past. Besides wielding his willow with elan across the globe, Kohli has emerged as a successful captain across formats, with an ICC crown the only achievement to have eluded him as skipper.
TESTS
Matches: 84, Innings: 141, Runs: 7202, Highest Score: 254 not out, Average: 54.97, 100s: 27, 50s: 22
ODIS
Matches: 202, Innings: 196, Runs: 10,130, Highest Score: 183, Average: 62.53, 100s: 39, 50s: 45
T20IS
Matches: 73, Innings: 69, Runs: 2607, Highest Score: 94 not out, Average: 52.14, 50s: 24

Virat Kohli

Ravichandran Ashwin

One of India's premier spinners, Ravichandran Ashwin today ranks amongst the best exponents of off-spin bowling in world cricket. He made his ODI debut in 2010 and donned the Test whites for the first time in 2011. In 2013, Ashwin broke Erapalli Prasanna's Indian record for the fastest to 100 Test wickets when he reached the milestone in his 18th Test. He was adjudged Man of the Series in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in 2013, and was one of the leading performers with the ball when India won its first Test series in Australia on the 2018-19 tour. For the last three years, Ashwin has struggled to cement his place in the limited-overs side but continues to be the go-to bowler in Tests with his control over offbreaks and a sharp brain keeping India alive in the 2020-2021 Border-Gavaskar series.
BATTING
TESTS
Matches: 70, Innings: 96, Runs: 2385, Highest Score: 124, Average: 28.73, 100s: 4, 50s: 11
ODIS
Matches: 104, Innings: 59, Runs: 637, Highest Score: 65, Average: 1592, 100s: 0, 50s: 1
T20IS
Matches: 44, Innings: 11, Runs: 123, Highest Score: 31 not out, Average: 30.75, 100s: 0, 50s: 0
BOWLING
TESTS
Matches: 70, Innings: 131, Wickets: 362, BBI: 7/59, BBM: 13/140, Average 25.36, Strike Rate: 53.6, Economy Rate: 2.83, 5wi: 27, 10wm: 7
ODIS
Matches: 104, Innings: 102, Wickets: 136, BBI: 4/25, Average 33.91, Strike Rate: 41.3, Economy Rate: 4.91, 4w:1, 5w: 0
T20Is
Matches: 44, Innings: 44, Wickets: 50, BBI: 4/8, Average 22.46, Strike Rate: 19.5, Economy Rate: 6.88, 4w: 2, 5w: 0

Ravichandran Ashwin

SPORTSWOMAN OF THE DECADE
(CRICKET)

Mithali Raj

Not many make their international debut at the age of 16 and not many continue when they are 38! Mithali has been the torchbearer of Indian women's cricket for more than two decades and, undoubtedly, its greatest player. In her long and illustrious career, she has enjoyed tremendous success in all formats of the game.
In 2020, she made it to the ICC ODI Team of the Decade, a fitting honour for her consistency and longevity.
She is the only woman to score more than 6,000 ODI runs in a career and she is also the only player to make more than 200 appearances for her country (209 matches, 6,888 runs). When Mithali led India to the ODI World Cup final in 2017, she became the only skipper – male or female – to have taken the side to two World Cup summit clashes (she had also captained the team in the 2005 World Cup final). At 38, Mithali is hungry as ever.
Mithali Raj facts
2014: Led India to a Test win against England in Wormsley and also guided the team to a Test win against South Africa in Mysuru
2015: Received the Padma Shri Award
2016: Captained India in the 2016 World T20
2017: Led India to the ODI World Cup final and in the process, surpassed former England captain Charlotte Edwards to become the highest run-scorer in ODIs and the first woman to 6000 runs in the format. Her 409-run tally in the tournament was second only to England opener Tammy Beaumont's.
She is the only Indian captain - male or female - to have led the side to two 50-over World Cup finals - 2005 and 2017 - the only major distinction that eludes the incumbent ODI captain is the tag of a World Cup winner.
2018: Became the highest run scorer for India on November 11in T20 cricket, surpassing Rohit Sharma. She retired from the format in 2019, with 2364 runs. Also received the Wisden Leading Woman Cricketer in the World Award.
2019: Became the first woman to complete two decades in ODI cricket.
2020: Made it to the ICC's ODI Team of the Decade.
TESTS
Matches: 2, Runs: 91, Highest: 50*, Strike Rate: 40.26, 50s: 1
ODIs
Matches: 89, Runs: 3052, Highest: 125*, Average: 51.72, 100s: 5, 50s: 21.
T20Is (till 2019)
Matches: 76, Runs: 1989, Highest: 97*, Average: 36.38, 50s: 15

Mithali Raj

Jhulan Goswami

Jhulan, only eight days older than Mithali, has served the country with distinction as a bowler, skipper and even nightwatchman (she made a fifty against England at Leicester in 2006).
A fast bowler with a bustling run-up and a big heart, Jhulan has been India's biggest weapon since 2002 when she made her debut. She and Mithali are a treasure trove of knowledge, sharing experience and expertise with the younger lot.
Jhulan, the only bowler to scalp more than 200 ODI wickets (225 in 182 games), was named in ICC's ODI Team of the Decade in 2020.
The 2010 Arjuna and 2012 Padma Shri winner continues to run in with verve and enthusiasm, as her exploits for Trailblazers in the 2020 Women's T20 Challenge in Sharjah showed.
Jhulan Goswami facts
2012: Became the second Indian women cricketer to receive the Padma Shri after Diana Edulji. She received the Arjuna Award in 2010.
2014: She scalped a four-for against England, helping India win the one-off Test against England.
2015: She was one of four senior players who were handed the highest grade of central contracts by the BCCI for the first time.
2016: She featured in the World T20 for India.
#Was the player of the match in the final as India beat Pakistan to clinch the Asia Cup.
2017: Became the highest wicket-taker in the history of ODIs, eclipsing the decade-long record of Australian Cathryn Fitzpatrick. She still is the highest wicket-taker in the ODI format with 225 scalps.
# Scalped 10 wickets as India reached the final of the Women’s ODI World Cup in England.
2018: She quit T20Is, but continued to play in ODIs.
2020: Made it to the ICC ODI Team of the Decade.
TESTS
Matches: 2, Runs: 20, Highest: 17, SR: 22.22, Wickets: 7, Best: 5-68, Economy: 2.11, SR 50.5.
ODIs
Matches: 77, Wickets: 105 (Highest), Economy: 3.50, Average: 36.4, Best: 6-31, 5-fors: 1, 4-fors: 3.
T20Is (till 2018)
Matches: 57, Wickets: 53, Economy: 5.42, Best: 5-11, 5-fors: 1.

Jhulan Goswami

Smriti Mandhana

Just 24, Smriti is already a superstar in Indian women's cricket. A vital link in the batting chain, the opener has made a huge impact with her style and substance. She is even referred to as Lady Ganguly for her grace and timing. Smriti announced her arrival on the big stage in style, smashing a double hundred for Maharashtra against Gujarat in a West Zone women's under-19 one-day game in 2013. At ease in all three formats, Smriti has gone to score 3,822 runs since donning the India cap in 2013. When the 2019 Arjuna Award winner led Trailblazers to a remarkable maiden triumph in the 2020 Women's T20 Challenge in Sharjah, her leadership qualities came to the fore. Her match-winning skills found suitors in the Big Bash League and Women's Super League in England, and she vindicated their decision by piling up runs at a frenetic pace.
Smriti Mandhana facts
2013: Made her presence felt with a double century for Maharashtra against Gujarat in a West Zone women's under-19 one-day fixture.
Broke into the Indian ODI and T20I sides against Bangladesh.
2014: Scored a half-century on her Test debut against England in 2014, which paved the way for India’s historic win.
2016: Scored her first ODI century against Australia in Hobart. She amassed 157 runs in the three-match ODI series.
# After the tour of Australia, she featured in the World T20. Later in the year, made it to the Women’s Big Bash League, featuring for Brisbane Heat.
# Made it to the ICC Women’s Team of the Year
2017: Scored a century against the West Indies in the World Cup in England, which eventually helped India reach the final of the tournament.
2018: Played in the Kia Super League for Western Storm. Amassed 689 runs – with four half-centuries and a ton.
# Was named the vice-captain of the Indian team for the T20 World Cup.
# Featured in the Women’s Big Bash League for Hobart Hurricanes.
2019: Conferred the Arjuna Award.
# Became the third fastest woman to score 2,000 runs in ODI cricket when she hit a match-winning fifty against West Indies.
2020: Was the vice-captain of the Indian team which reached the final of T20 World Cup in Australia.
# In her captaincy, Trailblazers won the Women's T20 Challenge in Sharjah.
TESTS
Matches: 2, Runs: 81, Highest: 51, Strike Rate: 43.54, 50s: 1
ODIs
Matches: 51, Runs: 2025, Highest: 135, Strike Rate: 84.41, 100s: 4, 50s: 17
T20Is
Matches: 75, Runs: 1716, Highest: 86, Strike Rate: 119.41, 50s: 12

Smriti Mandhana

SPORTSMAN OF THE DECADE
(TEAM SPORTS)

Sunil Chhetri
(Football)

Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri began the past decade by joining Portuguese club Sporting Lisbon’s reserve side in 2012 and was loaned out to Churchill Brothers the following year. After leading Churchill to the I-league title that season, he joined Bengaluru FC, where his career took off with a league-high 14 goals as he steered the club to the title in its debut season. Chhetri led BFC to a remarkable runner-up finish at the 2016 AFC Cup, another I-League title and two Federation Cup trophies in his first three years with it. During this period, he also spent two seasons with Mumbai City FC in the Indian Super League.
Bengaluru FC joined the ISL in 2017 and enjoyed a memorable maiden campaign as Chhetri led it to a runner-up finish and a Super Cup triumph. Chhetri struck 14 goals in the ISL that season. He then successfully powered Bengaluru to the ISL crown the following season. Chhetri is the highest goal-scorer in the ISL with 42 goals from 82 matches.
Chhetri led the young Indian national team to qualify for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup and to the Intercontinental Cup title in 2018. Named an ‘Asian Icon’ by the Asian Football Confederation, Chhetri is the national team’s most-capped player and the second-highest goal-scorer among active international footballers, second only to Cristiano Ronaldo. The 36-year-old was conferred the Padma Shri in 2019.

Sunil Chhetri
(Football)

Sardar Singh
(Hockey)

The 34-year old’s ‘achievement’ section on the Internet is as big as the entire career of many! He made his first appearance in 2006 in the Indo-Pak series, a baptism by fire. Labelled 'indisciplined' during his early years, 2010 was Sardar's breakout year, with the World Cup and Commonwealth Games at home. Made the FIH All-Stars twice, in 2010 and 2011, only the second Indian to do so.
One of the most-capped international hockey players (314), he was honoured with the Arjuna in 2012, Padma Shri in 2015 and Khel Ratna in 2018. He led the country for almost eight years after getting the chance for the first time in 2008 when he was just 22, one of the youngest to captain India. 
From 2010, Sardar has been part of every Indian success – Asian Games, CWG, Asia Cup, World League, Champions Trophy, Asian Champions Trophy – and has proved himself in every position – attack, midfield and defence.

Sardar Singh
(Hockey)

Manpreet Singh
(Hockey)

The past decade has coincided with a resurrection of Indian hockey, both on and off the field, and Manpreet Singh’s career has grown proportionately.
Starting with his international debut in 2011 at the age of 19, Manpreet has been an integral part of the national team’s growth in this period to being No. 4 in the world. Already an Olympian when he captained the team at the 2013 Junior World Cup, Manpreet was named Asia's Junior Player of the Year in 2014.
With 267 caps, participation at two Olympics and a host of national and international awards under his belt, the 28-year-old captain has symbolised the new, confident Indian hockey. In 2018, he led India to a 6th-place finish at the World Cup, its best finish since 1994. In 2019, Manpreet led the team to victory in the FIH Series Finals and the Olympic Qualifiers, reached the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup final and won the Olympic Test Event in Tokyo. He also became the first Indian ever to win the FIH Best Player award in 2019, an honour that eluded even the likes of Sardar Singh. The year also saw him named as the Sportstar Player of the Year and the Hockey India Player of the Year.
With a medal at almost all major competitions — Asian Games (gold 2014, bronze 2018), Asia Cup (gold 2017, silver 2013), Champions Trophy (silver 2016 and 2018) and Commonwealth Games (silver 2014) — the midfielder has proven himself a worthy successor to Sardar.

Manpreet Singh
(Hockey)

SPORTSWOMAN OF THE DECADE
(TEAM SPORTS)

Savita Punia
(Hockey)

With more than 200 caps, the 30-year-old goalkeeper is the second senior-most member after Rani Rampal in the Indian women’s hockey team in terms of experience.
She has been involved in almost every major success that the team enjoyed in the last decade – denying Japan in the Olympic qualifier and helping help India qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics, winning the 2016 Asian Champions Trophy, bronze at the 2014 Asian Games and silver in 2018, bronze in the 2013 Asia Cup and gold in 2017 which took the team to the 2018 World Cup. Incidentally, Savita was chosen the Best Goalkeeper of the 2017 Asia Cup. 
Savita won the Arjuna Award in 2018 – only the third woman goalkeeper to be conferred the distinction, and the first in 14 years – and was included in Forbes India’s 30-under-30 list the same year. 

Savita Punia
(Hockey)

Rani Rampal
(Hockey)

She's just 26, but Rani has achieved more than most. She was only 15 when she took the field at the 2010 World Cup and has been part of every Indian team since, winning a record 241 caps so far. In her maiden tournament, she went on to bag the Best Young Player award and emerged its top scorer. Rani was also named in the FIH All-Stars team for 2010.
She was the Player of the tournament at the Junior World Cup in 2013, leading India to its maiden medal in the competition (bronze). Rani scored the lone goal in the Olympic Qualifier 2015 and the crucial winner for India against the USA in the Olympic Qualifier in 2019. She was also chosen as the World Games Athlete of the Year in 2019.
Rani was awarded the Arjuna in 2016 and Padma Shri in 2020, and became the first woman hockey player – and only the third from the sport – to get the Khel Ratna later that year.

Rani Rampal
(Hockey)

Ngangom Bala Devi
(Football)

Bala Devi made history in 2020 by becoming the first Indian women’s footballer to sign a professional contract with a foreign club when she joined Scottish Women’s Premier League side Rangers on an 18-month contract.
She is currently the all-time leading scorer in the Indian Women's League. She bagged 12 goals in the 2017-18 season in KRYPHSA’s semifinal run, before netting a stunning 26 goals to steer Manipur Police to a runner-up finish the following year.
A former captain of the national team, Bala Devi is the current top-scorer for the Indian eves – scoring 52 times in 58 games since 2010. She is also the top international goal-scorer in the South Asian region.
She has tasted plenty of success in national colours, winning the SAFF Women’s Championship thrice (2010, 2014, 2016) and clinching gold at the South Asian Games thrice (2010, 2016, 2019). Bala has also been named the All India Football Federation Women’s Player of the Year twice, in 2015 and 2016.

Ngangom Bala Devi
(Football)

SPORTSMAN OF THE DECADE
(RACQUET SPORTS)

Leander Paes
(Tennis)

There are men and there are marathon men. Paes, who began his Davis Cup journey at 17, continues to volley for his country even at 47! Despite being the most successful Davis Cupper of all time (43 doubles victories), his hunger is undiminished. He has made seven trips to the Olympics – the most by a player in history – but is eager to finish with eight at Tokyo this year. The last time Paes laid his hands on a doubles trophy was in 2015, but that hasn't stopped him from globe-trotting in search for more. In fact, in the last decade, he bagged two of his eight Grand Slam men's doubles crowns, four of his 10 Slam mixed doubles trophies and 11 of his 54 ATP Tour doubles titles this decade. Though he has won honours aplenty, the one he would cherish most is the honour of longevity: he is competing on the ATP Tour for the fourth decade. A tough act to follow.

Leander Paes
(Tennis)

Sharath Kamal
(Table Tennis)

Clearly the best Indian table tennis player ever, given his success at the international level, Sharath Kamal is a role model for more than one generation of players. A former Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth gold medallist, the record nine-time national champion remains the top-ranked Indian in the world.  Voted the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the 2014-15 season of the German Bundesliga, Sharath created a sensation in the 2016 Asian Cup by stunning world No. 8 Chaung Chih-Yuan, No. 16 Joo Se Hyuk and No. 14. Gao Ning in that order. 
At the 2018 World Championships, Sharath spectacularly led India to its best-ever spot (13), winning 10 out of 13 matches and gaining ranking points equivalent to winning a Platinum Pro Tour event. A two-time Asian Games bronze medallist, Sharath won the 2020 Oman Open.

Sharath Kamal
(Table Tennis)

Kidambi Srikanth
(Badminton)

Srikanth, the only Indian to be ranked men’s world No. 1, shot to prominence with a series of consistent performances this decade. 2017 was Srikanth’s year as he bagged four titles from five finals. His only runner-up finish came against compatriot B. Sai Praneeth at the Singapore Open. Known for his natural attacking style, Srikanth developed his defensive skills to excel among the world’s elite. Though health concerns and injuries hampered his progress, Srikanth bounced back to reach the quarterfinals of the 2016 Rio Olympics and the World championship. The silver medal from the 2018 Commonwealth Games was followed by his climb to the top of the summit in the world rankings. 

Kidambi Srikanth
(Badminton)

SPORTSWOMAN OF THE DECADE
(RACQUET SPORTS)

P. V. Sindhu
(Badminton)

Reigning world champion and Olympic finalist P. V. Sindhu has more achievements to show than any other Indian shuttler in the past decade. Part of the creamy layer of world badminton, the lanky girl from Hyderabad has considerably and consistently raised the bar set by Saina Nehwal.
Holder of five World Championships medals – a gold, two silver and two bronze – and a silver medals from the Olympic Games, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, South Asian Games and the National Championships, Sindhu is a top contender at big-ticket events.
Before the world title, Sindhu’s biggest success came in the 2018 BWF World Tour Finals, where she felled defending champion Akane Yamaguchi, top seed Tai Tzu-ying and two former world champions, Ratchanok Intanon and Nozomi Okuhara. Add three BWF Superseries titles and six Grand Prix crowns, and Sindhu stands out as the best performer of the decade.

P. V. Sindhu
(Badminton)

Sania Mirza
(Tennis)

As comebacks go, she has scripted the mother of all comebacks in Indian sports. Sania, who gave birth to son Izhaan in October 2018, decided to give tennis a shot again. And what a shot it turned out to be! She duly won her 42nd WTA doubles title at the Hobart International in January 2020 in the company of Nadiia Kichenok. Proud and eager to represent the country, she decided to spearhead India's Fed Cup challenge. She registered three crucial doubles wins and, along with Ankita Raina, piloted the team to Fed Cup finals, a first in India's history. Her doubles title wins this decade include three women’s trophies, three mixed doubles Grand Slam titles and two WTA Tour Finals crowns. At the 2016 Rio Games, she and partner Rohan Bopanna progressed to the semifinals before bowing out. An inspiration to the younger generation, Sania's impact on Indian tennis is not just about the crowns she has won, but also about the belief and confidence she has shown on the world stage.

Sania Mirza
(Tennis)

Saina Nehwal
(Badminton)

The torch-bearer of Indian badminton for the better part of the last 14 years, Saina is the only Indian woman to be ranked world No. 1.
Having shown the way to win on the world stage, she won the biggest prize of her career at the 2012 London Olympics – a bronze medal.
Her triumph at the 2012 Indonesian Open would rank among her best. She put  the finishing touches to a gritty run by beating the year’s most dominant player China’s Li Xuerui (the eventual Olympic champion) in the final. She also clinched a bronze at the 2017 World Championships. 
Though Sindhu has taken over the mantle from Saina, the latter continues to hold sway over her younger rival. When it comes to sheer persistence and determination, Saina is second to none. Her never-say-die attitude has kept her going on the international stage for more than 15 years.

Saina Nehwal
(Badminton)

SPORTSMAN OF THE DECADE
(INDIVIDUAL OLYMPIC SPORTS)

Sushil Kumar
(Wrestling)

Sushil has carved a niche for himself by becoming the first India to claim two Olympic medals in individual sports and being the only Indian wrestler to win a world crown. The wrestler, who bagged a bronze in the men's freestyle 66kg class at the Beijing Olympics, did one better by clinching the silver at London 2012. Sushil had made a bright start to the decade, winning gold at the Asian Championships (Delhi), World Championships (Moscow) and Commonwealth Games (Delhi) in 2010. His hat-trick of top podium finishes at the Commonwealth Games (2010, '14 & 18) is another first in Indian sport.

Sushil Kumar
(Wrestling)

Vijay Kumar
(Shooting)

He is the pistol hero of Indian shooting. Competing in his maiden Olympics at London in 2012, Vijay had to grapple with nerves, stiff competition and bad weather in the 25m rapidfire pistol event. He went on to conquer the demons within and the battle outside to clinch a silver, India's first in a pistol event at the Games. It was a silver medal at the Fort Benning World Cup in 2011 that had sealed a berth for Vijay at London. For his heroic performance, he was awarded the Khel Ratna in 2012 and Padma Shri a year later.

Vijay Kumar
(Shooting)

Gagan Narang
(Shooting)

When a shooter fails on the big stage by a whisker in two successive Olympics, the third could be nerve-wracking. Gagan, who had missed out at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, gathered his wits and courage to shoot a bronze in the 10m air rifle event at London 2012. Though he qualified for Rio 2016, he couldn't replicate the podium high. Two years earlier, at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Gagan had won a silver and bronze in 50m rifle prone and 50m rifle three-position. He is a recipient of the Khel Ratna and Padma Shri awards.

Gagan Narang
(Shooting)

SPORTSWOMAN OF THE DECADE
(INDIVIDUAL OLYMPIC SPORTS)

Mary Kom
(Boxing)

'Magnificent' Mary is the icon of Indian women's boxing. She is the most decorated boxer in World Championships history with eight medals (six gold, one silver and one bronze). Her phenomenal journey at the Worlds began with a second-place finish in 2001 before she jumped a step up in 2002. She remained there in 2005. '06, '08, '10 & '18 before slipping to third in 2019 in Ulan-Ude, Mongolia. The crowning glory of her career came at the London 2012 Games when she won a bronze in the 51kg class. Her trophy cabinet also contains a bronze (2010) and gold (2014) from the Asian Games, three Asian Championships trophies (2010, 2012 and 2017) and a gold from the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. The milestone lady is the first Indian woman to reach the top at the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games.

Mary Kom
(Boxing)

Mirabai Chanu
(Weightlifting)

The weightlifter shot into the limelight at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games when she won a silver in the women's 48kg category with a lift of 170kg. After a forgettable trip to Rio in 2016, Mirabai bounced back to clinch the world title in Anaheim, USA, in 2017, lifting 194kg. At the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, she improved it to 196kg – a national record – en route to the gold. She is the first Indian to bag a world title after the World Anti-Doping Agency came into existence. Mirabai, who was out for nearly a year due to a lower-back injury, showed her mettle by rewriting her own National mark with a lift of 201kg in the revamped 49kg in 2019. She bettered it to 203kg at the national championships in Kolkata in 2020.

Mirabai Chanu
(Weightlifting)

Sakshi Malik
(Wrestling)

Sakshi showed promise and hunger at a young age when she clinched the Asian junior gold medal and a world junior bronze. From silver at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, she defied form and prediction to climb the podium at the Rio Games two years later. Her bronze was worth its weight in gold as she earned the distinction of being the first Indian woman wrestler to wrap a medal around her neck at the quadrennial extravaganza. Sakshi went on to win another bronze at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Sakshi Malik
(Wrestling)

SPORTSPERSON OF THE DECADE (MOTORSPORTS)

Gaurav Gill

Gill is India’s best-known face in the world of car rallying. Winning the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) in 2013 was his first major achievement on the international stage, a triumph he repeated in 2016 and '17 driving for the Indian outfit Team MRF. He also tried his hand in the WRC 2 category, one rung below the elite level of rallying. Gill finished second at the National Road Racing Championship in 2003 before going one better the following year. In 2019, he earned the honour of being the first motorsports athlete to be awarded the Arjuna for his national and APRC performances.

Gaurav Gill

K. P. Aravind

Following in C. S. Santhosh’s footsteps, Arvind, another rider from Bengaluru, has become a regular at the Dakar Rally. The second Indian to complete the rally, he took the overall 39th spot in the 2019 edition. Arvind, who has won a whopping 17 national titles, has triumphed at the gruelling Raid de Himalaya too (2015). Santhosh and Arvind have inspired a new crop of off-roaders who have been competing in some of the toughest rallies across the world. The riders have been supported by corporates like Hero Motors and TVS Racing, who have fielded factory teams at these prestigious events.

K. P. Aravind

Narain Karthikeyan

Narain became the first Indian to race in Formula 1 when he drove for Jordan GP in the 2005 season. He returned to the F1 grid after a six-year break and competed in nine races for Hispania Racing in 2011. Later that year, he earned the distinction of being the only Indian driver to line up for the country's inaugural Formula One race at the Buddh International Circuit. The racer from Coimbatore strapped his seat belt for the team (renamed HRT) the next season too though he failed to score any points in both years. Since then, Narain has made a career out of competing in Japan in the Super Formula and Super GT categories.

Narain Karthikeyan

CLUB OF THE DECADE

Mumbai Indians

If consistency is a yardstick for measuring a team’s success, few can match Mumbai Indians. After all, the Indian Premier League franchise won seven titles in the 14 tournaments it participated in in the last decade, two of which came at the now-defunct Champions League Twenty20 (2011 and ’13). But the highlight of the team’s success is its five IPL titles in an eight-year period. Beginning with 2013, when Rohit Sharma took over as captain midway through the season, MI won the title every alternate year till the end of the decade, when it broke the sequence with its dominant victory in the 2020 edition. In addition, MI has contributed in terms of shaping Indian talent, including the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya.

Mumbai Indians

Patna Pirates

The Patna Pirates franchise has been the most successful in the brief history of the Pro Kabaddi League, its three titles coming in successive seasons between 2016 and 2017, after making the semifinals the previous two years. In seven seasons, the franchise has recorded the second-most wins (70) and has a win percentage of 52.23 from 134 matches.

Patna Pirates

Bengaluru FC

Ever since Bengaluru FC came into being in 2013, it has been Indian football’s leading light. With two I-League titles, two Federation Cups, one ISL crown and one Indian Super Cup, it is the most successful Indian football club of the last decade. The side’s run to the AFC Cup final in 2016 remains the best performance by an Indian club on the continental stage in the recent past. It has also set high standards off the field, be it in the kind of professionalism it has instilled in its footballers or the manner in which it has provided its coaches with time and room to build winning units. Last July, the club’s grassroots development initiative was conferred a two-star academy status by the Asian Football Confederation, making it the only professional club in India to gain the recognition.

Bengaluru FC

MOMENT OF THE DECADE

Sachin Tendulkar's
100th hundred in
international cricket

Dhaka’s Sher-E-Bangla National Stadium was agog with twin anticipation. The host was taking on big brother India in an Asia Cup match and Sachin Tendulkar was on 99 international hundreds, an artificial construct blending tons in Tests with the ones from ODIs! For the local crowd, March 16, 2012, turned out to be a splendid day. The fans stepped in hoping for a Bangladeshi ambush and maestro’s epochal century, and both were witnessed on a summer night. Tendulkar’s 114 (147b, 12x4, 1x6) blended old-world solidity with new-era pyrotechnics and he also avoided a stumping and a run-out. When he finally tapped Shakib al Hasan to square-leg for the milestone single, his relief was obvious. It was a special moment for him but India could not prevent Bangladesh’s successful chase as the host won by five wickets and with four deliveries to spare. It was a night of ecstasy and agony.

Sachin Tendulkar's
100th hundred in
international cricket

Sachin Tendulkar's
speech announcing
his retirement

An image of inspiration, an idol of reverence and a man of honour, Sachin Tendulkar ended his celebrated career in cricket on November 16, 2013.
“All my friends. Settle down let me talk, I will get more and more emotional. My life, between 22 yards for 24 years, it is hard to believe that that wonderful journey has come to an end, but I would like to take this opportunity to thank people who have played an important role in my life. Also, for the first time in my life, I am carrying this list, to remember all the names in case I forget someone. I hope you understand. It’s getting a little bit difficult to talk but I will manage,” an emotional Sachin said.
It was a speech that left every cricket fan with tears in their eyes. Twenty-four years after his debut in Pakistan, Tendulkar bid adieu to a glorious international career after playing 200 Tests. Tendulkar's Test career ended at 15,291 runs, 51 centuries, 68 fifties and an average of 53.78 across 329 innings.

Sachin Tendulkar's
speech announcing
his retirement

Viswanathan Anand
winning the world
rapid championship

Viswanathan Anand pulled off a truly remarkable feat at Riyadh on December 28 (2017) when, at the age of 48, he became the world rapid chess champion. It was a stunning performance by the genial genius from Chennai. Nobody expected him to come first in a tournament that featured stronger and younger rivals, including Magnus Carlsen, the planet's best player by a considerable distance. But Anand turned back the clock in remarkable fashion. After beating Carlsen early on in the tournament, he finished in a three-way tie at the top. In the ensuing tie-breaker, he defeated Russia's Vladimir Fedoseev convincingly to author an unforgettable story for Indian sport.

Viswanathan Anand
winning the world
rapid championship

Dipa Karmakar
finishing fourth
at the Rio Olympics

Dipa has the distinction of putting Indian gymnastics on the world map. After entering the record books by becoming the first Indian to book a berth at the Games (Rio 2016), she almost made it to the podium before falling short by a whisker. Only the fifth woman to perform the extremely tough and risky Produnova vault, she found herself missing out on a bronze by just 0.150 point. She overcame the disappointment by winning gold at the World Challenge Cup, a global event, in Mersin, Turkey, in 2018. Dipa had vaulted into the arclights with bronze-medal-winning shows at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and 2015 Hiroshima Asian Championships, another first for an Indian.

Dipa Karmakar
finishing fourth
at the Rio Olympics

M. S. Dhoni’s
winning six in the
2011 World Cup

A billion fans waited with bated breath as Mahendra Singh Dhoni promoted himself up the batting order ahead of Player of the Tournament Yuvraj Singh in a sizeable chase in the 2011 World Cup final. India’s 28-year wait for glory hinged on the captain’s courageous decision that April night at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. By the time Nuwan Kulasekara ran in to bowl the penultimate over of the tournament, the writing was clearly on the wall. But Dhoni – the man who stole the cricket world’s attention with his big-hitting prowess early on in his career – wanted to stamp his authority in no uncertain terms. Kulasekara bowled a fuller delivery with India requiring four runs off 11 balls, and Dhoni’s giant blade sent the ball soaring over the ropes to kickstart a celebration that went on through the night and for many more months to follow. The match-winning hit is etched in the memory of cricket aficionados as the defining moment of India’s World Cup triumph.

M. S. Dhoni’s
winning six in the
2011 World Cup

P. V. Sindhu’s World
Championship victory
in Basel

India's first world title from the badminton court became a reality when Sindhu’s grit and power-packed performances culminated in a monumental achievement. Having bounced back from the brink of stun Tai Tzu-ying, the top seed from Chinese Taipei, (12-21, 23-21, 21-19) in the quarterfinals and dominating China’s Chen Yufei (21-7, 21-14) in the semifinals, Sindhu saved her best for arch-rival, Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara. The final turned out to be a 38-minute masterclass from the Indian as she breezed home 21-7, 21-7 to avenge the loss suffered in the 2017 title clash. Appearing in her third successive world final, Sindhu dropped the opening point after a 22-stroke rally, but hardly put a foot wrong thereafter. The hallmark of her triumph was the way she consistently finished off rallies with exquisite strokes. A truly remarkable show.

P. V. Sindhu’s World
Championship victory
in Basel

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