On Sunday – 25 July, 2019 – three athletes pushed the boundaries of individual excellence with a breathtaking display of abilities, talent and never-say-die attitude to script something outrageous, something special.
PV Sindhu, Ben Stokes and Jasprit Bumrah conjured magic on Sunday.
Over the course of nine hours, which started with Sindhu gracing the court at Basel followed by Stokes taking on the Aussies at Headingley and ended with Bumrah bringing down the West Indies, the world witnessed the splendour of exceptional individual performances in sports, making it a Sunday to remember for a very, very long time.
Strangely, something similar to Sunday happened only a month back, with England (Stokes, again, heavily involved) and New Zealand playing out a remarkable Cricket World Cup final at Lord's along with legends Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic battling it out for the Wimbledon glory. If the sports fans had thought they had seen it all on 14 July, they were in for a much bigger treat on 25 August.
Sindhu has been longing for the World Championships gold medal for almost half a decade. She took home the bronze medal twice – in 2013 and 2014. Then she suffered agonising defeats in the finals of 2017 and 2018. Her quest finally ended on Sunday, with a stunning victory over Japan's Nozomi Okuhara. Such was her dominance that it took a mere 37 minutes for her to beat her opponent 21-7, 21-7 in Basel.
Many a great athlete, despite inspiring performances, years of devotion and relentless pursuit, don't end up winning the trophy/medal they have been chasing for years. Lionel Messi has been trying to win the FIFA World Cup for more than 12 years. David Ferrer, an outstanding tennis player, won tournaments at all levels except for a Grand Slam. Jacques Kallis, probably the greatest all-rounder in cricket, never won a World Cup. Asafa Powell ran the 100 metres under 10 seconds a record 97 times but never won a medal in the individual competitions at Olympics.
This time though, Sindhu had no plans to settle for the silver again. She had no time or energy to endure another defeat in the final. She gave a glimpse of things to come in her semi-final win over Chen Yufei. Aggressive, no-nonsense badminton. In the final, she went a notch up, showing the world the things she is capable of when the god mode is activated. She did not give a single inch to Okuhara to make any sort of comeback, bombarding her opponent with a barrage of powerful winners. It will take some time for Okuhara to recover from the onslaught she suffered on Sunday, but the for Indian badminton it was a day that will be etched in their minds for a long time.
Stokes, stop it!
There's a tweet from former England captain Nasser Hussain which he sent during the Day 4 of the third Ashes Test that reads, " You cannot do that Ben Stokes ...." Hussain's words perfectly captured the impudence of Stokes. Who the hell is he to help England to a memorable ODI World Cup win last month followed by playing one of the greatest Test knocks of all time on Sunday? This is England, the original chokers of cricket, the masters of batting collapses, the team that usually crumbles under pressure.
What right does Stokes have to break the norms?
Well, the simple answer to the question is, Stokes is once in a generation player.
There's a brilliant video doing the rounds in social media after England's victory in the third Test. As he hits the winning boundary off Pat Cummins, Stokes erupts in jubilation, his celebration timing is a tad faster than the crowd. He knew it all along, he knew even after the fall of the ninth wicket and the team still needing 73 more runs to keep the Ashes alive. How else will explain the knock? It has to be self-belief.
— Stuart Broad (@StuartBroad8) August 25, 2019
He took 73 balls to score the first three runs. He made his half-century in 152 balls. Then he smashed 74 runs off just 45 balls in the 10th wicket partnership with Jack Leach, which also included some mind-boggling sixes, with the reverse-sweep off Lyon taking the maximum share of adulation. What he did on Sunday was also a testament to his phenomenal resolve. Despite the Carlos Brathwaite massacre in the final of the World T20 in Kolkata, despite the pub brawl incident which resulted in him not playing for England for months, Stokes' determination to carve a name for himself, and for his national team, stands tall.
Just when the talk of sporting brilliance was supposed to be paused till Monday, Bumrah took the day by the scruff of its neck and screamed, "It's not done until I'm done."
The fast bowling sensation from India produced a genius spell, dismantling the West Indies side in a chase of 419 at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua. It was quite apt that the destruction came at a ground named after the guy who used to destroy the opposition himself in his heydays.
Eight overs, four maidens, seven runs and five wickets. 8-4-7-5. Bumrah's figures read. The Caribbean has given the cricketing world some of the best fast bowlers, and Sunday's spell from Bumrah seemed like a tribute to those trendsetters. There was pace and on top of it, Bumrah generated movement. He accounted for John Campbell, Dwayne Bravo, Shai Hope and captain Jason Holder, all decent batsmen, with all of them trudging back after watching their stumps in a mess. The final result was West Indies getting bowled out for mere 100. In fact, there were nine down for just 50 runs.
It was just one of those days where it became impossible to play Bumrah. Technically, the Windies batsmen were at fault, but when Bumrah decides to end things quickly, the batsmen can hardly be held responsible for the collapse. Bumrah now has a Test five-wicket haul in Australia, England, South Africa and West Indies. As they rightly say, Bumrah is Bumrah yaar.
Updated Date: Aug 26, 2019 14:26:07 IST