PV Sindhu, Ben Stokes complete sporting ascendancy on Super Sunday

PV Sindhu and Ben Stokes worked their way to sporting glory. (Reuters Photo)

Two athletes, two different sport and two contrasting wins. The most recent Super Sunday couldn’t have lived up to its name better. PV Sindhu was staking her claim to greatness in Basel. On the other side of the English channel, Ben Stokes was at it in Leeds.

At large, it was a story of two athletes finally managing to cross the finish line without stumbling at the final hurdle. PV Sindhu at Rio Olympics, Glasgow World Championships, Nanjing World Champions, Jakarta Asian Games and Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Ben Stokes at World T20 final in Kolkata, the World Cup thriller in London (if you remember it right).

Both PV Sindhu and Ben Stokes overcame their demons in emphatic styles and proved they are among the finest in sport.

PV Sindhu asserts greatness in Basel

Sindhu was called “choker”. It was said she was “not yet gold standard”. Sindhu had won two bronze medals at World Championships even before she made a Superseries final. At 22, she became the first ever female athlete to win a silver at the Olympics. However, the lack of a gold medal in her illustrious CV was highlighted more often than not.

As Sindhu pointed out, questions were asked “over and over” over her inability to finish on the top step of the podium at major events. Her temperament and her big-match skills were doubted.

On Sunday, Sindhu let her racket do the talking in Basel.

“This is my answer to people who have asked questions over and over. I just wanted to answer with my racket and with this win — that’s all,” PV Sindhu said after becoming the first-ever badminton (senior) world champion from India.

PV Sindhu vs Nozomi Okuhara, World Championships 2019 Final: Highlights | Report

Sindhu’s ordinary run in the lead up to Basel World Championships can be seen as a blessing in disguise. When Sindhu reached the final of the Rio Olympics, not many expected her to be there. It is safe to say, Sindhu punched above her weight en route to the second step of the podium at Rio de Janeiro.

However, the burden of expectations, to some extent, worked against her favour at major tournaments between Rio 2016 and Basel 2019 — a period in which Sindhu lost 7 major finals before managing to win the World Tour Finals last year.

PV Sindhu, it seemed, was in no mood to “settle for silver” on Sunday.

Against Nozomi Okuhara who had beaten her in a marathon 110-minute final at the World Championships in 2017, Sindhu set out to prove her critics wrong and show herself what she is capable of in the biggest stages in world badminton.

Sindhu needed just 38 minutes to do so on Sunday.

The agonising 3-game defeat in Glasgow seemed a distant past when Sindhu was making light work of Okuhara’s challenge. The Japanese shuttler had no clue to what hit her in those 38 minutes. Sindhu’s aggressive approach and single-mindedness was too good for the former world champion at St. Jakobshalle.

In the drift-free arena that was chanting her name throughout the gold medal match, Sindhu bulldozed her way into unquestionable greatness.

Sindhu felt goosebumps when the Indian national anthem was played during the medal ceremony. The sight of the gold medal hanging around her neck would have given millions back in the country goosebumps.

Ben Stokes delivers ‘miraculous’ Ashes win

Ben Stokes hit 74 runs in 42 balls after England lost the 9th wicket at Headingley on Sunday. He made sure England’s No. 11, Jack Leach scored just 1 run in a 76-run stand for the 10th wicket that will be remembered by English fans for generations to come.

Australia were favourites to retain the Ashes Urn when England were bowled out for 67 in the first innings of the Leeds Test.

Even the most ardent England fans would have given up hope when England were set a target of 359. Joe Root and Joe Denly put up a brave fight on Saturday but there was always the fear of a wicket triggering a collapse.

England vs Australia Ashes 2019 3rd Test Day 4: Highlights | Report

Root fell, Denly fell, Jonny Baristow fell, Jos Buttler was run out, Chris Woakes threw his wicket away, Stuart Broad was pinned by a yorker. Australia were 1 wicket away when England were reduced to 286 for 9 but the Super Sunday reminded that it isn’t over until it’s over in sports.

All Stokes and England wanted Jack Leash to do was hang around. The England No. 11 did just that and Stokes took care of the rest.

Stokes was brave, Stokes was innovative, Stokes was not willing to give up as he pulled, swept, switch hit and reverse swept his way to glory.

Hundreds, including cricket experts at home, had written off England’s chances after 27.5 overs of their first innings. Stokes proved them all wrong and most of them were happy to have been proven wrong.


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