2021, The Year In Sports: March recall

2021, The Year In Sports: From Mumbai City FC's ISL title victory to Djokovic's lengthy run as world No. 1, here is a look at the top sporting moments from March.

Mumbai City FC with the League winners trophy after the match 110 of the 7th season of the Hero Indian Super League between Mumbai City FC and ATK Mohun Bagan.

From Mumbai City FC's ISL title victory to Djokovic's lengthy run as world No. 1, here is a look at the top sporting moments from March.

Mirza marks WTA return with win

Mar 1: Sania Mirza paired with Andreja Klepac to beat Ukraine’s Nadiia Kichenok and Lyudmyla Kichenok 6-4, 6-7 (5), 10-5 in the opening round of the Qatar Total Open in Doha. The 34-year-old was making her comeback after last having played in February 2020 at the same venue.

ALSO READ: 2021, The Year In Sports: January recall

Mar 3: Pollard smashes six sixes in an over

Kieron Pollard hit six sixes off leg spinner Akila Dananjaya’s over en route to a 11-ball 38 in the first T20I against Sri Lanka in Antigua. Pollard became only the third batter to achieve this remarkable feat in international cricket, joining Herschelle Gibbs and Yuvraj Singh.

ALSO READ: 2021, The Year In Sports: February recall

Kieron Pollard gestures after smashing six sixes in an over during the first T20I against Sri Lanka.   -  WEST INDIES CRICKET

Mar 4: Trap team claims silver in Shotgun World Cup

The Indian women’s trap team, comprising Manisha Keer, Rajeshwari Kumari and Kirti Gupta, took the silver after losing to Russia 6-4 in the gold medal contest at the Shotgun World Cup in Cairo. India’s other medal at the event was a bronze won by the skeet team consisting of Mairaj Ahmed Khan, Anand Vir Singh Bajwa and Gurjoat Khangura.

Mar 5: Liverpool’s nightmare home run continues

Liverpool lost its fifth straight home game as Chelsea pipped the Reds 1-0 at Anfield. The defeat marked the worst home run for Liverpool in its 128-year history and dealt a fatal blow to its chances of qualifying for the Champions League.

 

Mar 5: Chopra sets new national javelin record

Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra set a new national record with a throw of 88.07m at the third Indian Grand Prix in Patiala, surpassing his earlier national record of 88.06m.

Mar 6: India wins Test series 3-1

After another field day for spinners with R Ashwin and Axar Patel claiming five wickets apiece to bundle out England for 135 within two sessions on Day 3, India cruised to an innings victory in the fourth Test in Ahmedabad and clinched the series 3-1. With the win, India also qualified for the World Test Championship (WTC) final.

Mar 6: Srikanth, Satwik, Chirag lose in semis at Swiss Open

Kidambi Srikanth, the 2015 winner of the event, lost to top seed Viktor Axelsen 13-21, 19-21 in the semifinal of the Swiss Open, while Satwiksairaj Reddy and Chirag Shetty met a similar fate in the men’s doubles event with a straight games defeat against Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen of Denmark. However, second seed P V Sindhu advanced to the women’s singles final after a thumping 22-20, 21-20 win against Mia Blichfeldt.

Mar 7: Sindhu takes silver at Swiss Open

Olympic silver-medallist PV Sindhu bagged silver at the BWF Swiss Open Super 300 after losing 12-21, 5-21 to top seed Carolina Marin in the women’s singles final.

Mar 7: India women play first ODI in 16 months

The Indian women cricket team returned to ODI action for the first time since November 2019.

 

The Indian women cricket team returned to ODI action for the first time since November 2019 as it took on South Africa in the first ODI in Lucknow. South Africa romped home by eight wickets with 59 balls to spare as the Mithali Raj-led side managed only 177 for nine from 50 overs.

Mar 7: Team Lebron trumps Team Durant in NBA All-Star Game

Lebron James won a fourth consecutive All-Star Game as captain, trouncing Team Durant 170-150. Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo was named MVP, shooting 16 of 16 for his 35 points and setting the record for scoring the most number of baskets without a miss in All-Star Game history.

Mar 7: Blachowicz defends light heavyweight title

Polish Jan Blachowicz successfully defended his light heavyweight title by claiming a unanimous decision victory over undefeated middleweight champion Israel Adesanya in the UFC 259 main event. Adesanya was eyeing to become only the fifth fighter in UFC history to hold two titles simultaneously.

Mar 7: Nunes defends women’s featherweight title

The most successful woman in UFC history, Amanda Nunes defended her featherweight title by handing a first round armbar submission defeat to Megan Anderson in the co-main event at UFC 259. The “Lioness” registered her 12th straight win, having lost her last and only UFC bout so far in September 2014.

Mar 8: Djokovic completes most weeks as world No.1

Djokovic, who lifted his ninth Australian Open, says his main focus from now on will be to win as many Grand Slams as possible. (File Photo)   -  REUTERS

 

Novak Djokovic’s dominance checked another box as the Serbian surpassed Roger Federer’s record of most weeks as world No.1 in men’s singles rankings with 311 weeks at the top.

Mar 8: Bajrang Punia makes golden return to the mat

Indian grappler Bajrang Punia claimed the gold medal at the Matteo Pallicone World Ranking Series in Rome by defeating Mongolia’s Tulga Tumur Ochir 2-2 by criteria in the final. The event marked Punia’s international return to the sport after a hiatus of more than a year owing to COVID-19 restrictions.

Mar 8: India ends European tour unbeaten

The Indian hockey team clinched a nervy 3-2 over Great Britain to end its European tour without dropping a match. Previously, India had drawn 1-1 with Great Britain, and registered a 6-1 win and a 1-1 draw against Germany.

Mar 10: Federer returns after 405 days

Roger Federer marked his return to tennis with a 7-6(8), 3-6, 7-5 win over Daniel Evans at the Qatar Open in Doha. Having made his last appearance at the Australian Open in January 2020, Federer returned to the sport after 405 days.

Roger Federer   -  AFP

 

Mar 11: Federer crashes out in quarterfinal

Nikoloz Basilashvili ended Roger Federer’s return to the ATP Tour with a 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 victory over the Swiss in the quarterfinal of the Qatar Open. Basilashvili saved a match point in the third set to send the 39-year-old packing.

Mar 11: Afghanistan gets its first Test double-centurion

Hashmatullah Shahidi struck an unbeaten 200 on day two of the second Test against Zimbabwe in Abu Dhabi to become the first Afghanistan batter to score a double-hundred in Test cricket.

Mar 12: Mithali completes 10,000 international career runs

India skipper Mithali Raj breached the 10,000-run mark in international cricket during the third ODI against South Africa in Lucknow. She became the first Indian woman cricketer to reach the five-digit mark and only the second in the world after England’s Charlotte Edwards.

Mar 13: Mumbai City FC lifts maiden ISL title

Mumbai City FC beat defending champion ATK Mohun Bagan 2-1 in the Indian Super League (ISL) final to lift the ISL Trophy after securing the League Winners Shield and complete the double. 

Mumbai City FC

Mumbai City FC had beaten ATK Mohun Bagan in the final to clinch the Indian Super League title last season.   -  Sportzpics / ISL

 

Mar 13: Muguruza finds her mojo in Dubai

Garbine Muguruza returned to winning ways after beating unseeded Barbora Krejcikova 7-6, 6-3 in the final to clinch the singles title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship – the first WTA 1000 tournament of the season.

Mar 14: Kohli becomes first batter to score 3000 runs in T20Is

India captain Virat Kohli became the first batter to reach the 3000-run landmark in T20Is in the second T20I against England in Ahmedabad. Kohli brought up the landmark with a six that also sealed a seven-wicket victory for India.

Mar 14: Fencer Bhavani Devi qualifies for Olympics

Indian sabre fencer C.A. Bhavani Devi   -  Special arrangement

 

CA Bhavani Devi became the first Indian fencer to qualify for the Olympics through the Adjusted Official Ranking (AOR) Method after she had to miss the Asia-Oceanic Olympic Qualifier due to COVID-19-induced restrictions. Ranked 45 in the world, Devi secured one of the two slots in the individual sabre category reserved for the Asia-Oceania region.

Mar 14: Ishan, Suryakumar Yadav debut for India

Ishan Kishan smashed a 32-ball 56 in the second T20I against England in Ahmedabad, earning the Player of the Match award and becoming only the second Indian to score a half-century on debut in the format. Suryakumar Yadav, also making his international debut, didn’t bat as India sailed to a seven-wicket victory with plenty to spare.

Mar 14: Mumbai lifts fourth Vijay Hazare Trophy title

Mumbai cricket team

CHAMPION! Team Mumbai poses with the 2020-21 Vijay Hazare Trophy.   -  Hotstar Screengrab

 

Aditya Tare smashed a match-winning unbeaten 118 as Mumbai beat Uttar Pradesh by six wickets in the Vijay Hazare Trophy final in Delhi. Chasing 313 for the win, Mumbai sailed home with 51 balls to spare to clinch its fourth title and join Karnataka as the tournament’s second most-successful team, trailing Tamil Nadu’s five titles.

Mar 14: Bhullar collects second runner-up finish

Indian golfer Gaganjeet Bhullar finished tied second with South African Darren Fichardt and Italian Guido Migliozzi at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters to register his second runner-up finish at a European Tour event. His first second-place finish had come at the Avantha Masters in 2013.

Mar 15: Rani sets new national women’s javelin record

Annu Rani threw the javelin 63.24m at the National Federation Cup Senior Athletics Championships, improving her own record of 62.43m set in September 2019 in Doha.

Mar 16: Sreeshankar improves national long jump record

Indian long jumper Murali Sreeshankar jumped 8.26m at the National Federation Cup Senior Athletics Championships in Patiala to go past his own record of 8.20m set in 2018. Sreeshankar also secured an Olympic berth with the jump.

Indian long jumper Murali Sreeshankar jumped 8.26m at the National Federation Cup Senior Athletics Championships in Patiala. (File Picture)   -  Getty Images

 

Mar 16: Dhanalakshmi beats Dutee Chand

S Dhanalakshmi clocked 11.39s in the women’s 100m sprint final to beat national record holder Dutee Chand at the Federation Cup Senior National Championships in Patiala.

Mar 17: India women lose ODI series against South Africa 4-1

South Africa women continued their dominance as they thrashed India by five wickets in the fifth and final ODI in Lucknow. 

Mar 18: Sharath qualifies for fourth Olympic Games

Ace Indian paddler Sharath Kamal thrashed Pakistan’s Rameez Muhammad 11-4, 11-1, 11-5, 11-4 to qualify for the men’s singles event at the Tokyo Olympics.

Paddlers Batra, Sutirtha qualify for Tokyo Olympics

Indian paddler Sutirtha Mukherjee beat compatriot Manika Batra 4-2 at the Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament in Doha to secure her maiden Olympic berth in women’ singles. Batra also qualified for the quadrennial event by virtue of her ranking.

Mar 19: Sindhu beats Yamaguchi to reach All England semifinal

PV Sindhu pipped former world No.1 Akane Yamaguchi 16-21, 21-16, 21-19 in a gruelling 76-minute contest to book a second semifinal berth at the All England Open Badminton Championships.

ALSO READ: 2021, The Year In Sports: February recall

Mar 19: Vijender Singh returns to the ring

Olympic bronze-medallist Vijender Singh’s return to the boxing ring after more than 15 months didn’t end well as the 36-year-old lost to 26-year-old Artysh Lopsan in Goa. The loss ended Singh’s unbeaten 12-match streak in professional boxing.

Mar 20: India seals T20I series versus England

India cruised to a 36-run victory in the fifth and final T20I against England in a run-fest in Ahmedabad to clinch the series 3-2.

Mar 20: Sindhu bows out of All England after semifinal loss

P. V. Sindhu in action during the All England Championships.   -  AP

 

After a spirited win against Yamaguchi in the quarterfinal, Sindhu fell to a 17-21, 9-21 defeat against Thailand’s Pornpawee Chochuwong within 25 minutes and crashed out of the last four stage at the All England Open Badminton Championships for the second time.

Mar 20: Sharath, Manika qualify for Tokyo mixed doubles event

Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra beat the South Korean pair of Lee Sangsu and Jeon Jihee in the final of the Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament in Doha to seal a berth in the mixed doubles event at the Tokyo Olympics. 

Mar 20: China’s Jiayu sets 20km women’s race walk record

Yang Jiayu completed the 20-km walk in 1:23:49s at the Chinese Championships in Huangshan to break compatriot Liu Hong’s erstwhile record by 49 seconds.

Mar 21: Lee, Okuhara win All England Open singles crowns

Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia beat defending champion Viktor Axelsen 30-29, 20-22, 21-9 in the men's final of the All England Open Badminton Championships to win his maiden crown at the event. In the women’s singles title clash, Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara outclassed Pornpawee Chochuwong 21-12, 21-26 to bag her second All England title.

Mar 23: Debutants Krunal and Prasidh shine

All-rounder Krunal Pandya smashed the fastest fifty on ODI debut off 26 balls and pacer Prasidh Krishna bagged four wickets for 54 runs as India beat England by 66 runs in the first ODI in Pune.

Mar 23: India women win third T20I; lose series 2-1

Openers Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana shot down the 113-run target in 11 overs as India beat South Africa by nine wickets in the third and final T20I in Lucknow. However, South Africa took the series 2-1 to end its white-ball tour on a high.

Mar 28: Marquez’s MotoGP return delayed

Six-time MotoGP champion Marc Marquez’s much-anticipated return from injury was postponed with his team Honda stating that the Spaniard would skip the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix as well as the Doha GP. 

Mar 28: India edges England for series win

A jubilant Virat Kohli celebrates India's win.   -  Sportzpics / BCCI

 

India pipped England by seven runs in a final-over thriller in the third and final ODI against England in Pune to take the series 2-1.

Mar 28: Hamilton wins season-opener; Schumacher debuts

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton kicked off his 2021 title defence with a winning start at the Bahrain Grand Prix after rival Max Verstappen was asked to hand the first position back for exceeding track limits while overtaking. In the same race, legendary driver Michael Schumacher’s son Mick Schumacher made his F1 Grand Prix debut for Haas. The 22-year-old finished 16th in the 20-car grid.

Mar 28: Vinales wins first MotoGP race of the season

Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales registered a comfortable victory at the Barwa Grand Prix of Qatar in MotoGP’s first race of the season. He edged out second-placed Johann Zarco by over a second while defending champion Joan Mir finished fourth.

Mar 28: Record haul for India at ISSF World Cup 2021

India topped the medal tally at the ISSF World Cup 2021 in New Delhi with 30 medals, including 15 gold, nine silver and six bronze. This was India’s sixth consecutive pole position finish at the ISSF World Cup.

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