2018 in sports: Mithali Raj row, Serena slams umpire, Ravi Shastri's shocking statement
The Year of Virat Kohli!
Just like 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017... 2018 was the year of the batting genius Virat Kohli again. The fiery captain of the Indian cricket team, was aggressive on the field and was outrageous with the bat. In 13 Test matches that Virat Kohli played, he scored 1322 runs at an average of 55.54. Virat Kohli scored 5 Test centuries, taking his Tests tally to 25 centuries. But if you think Virat Kohli dominated Test cricket in 2018, you will be shocked to see his numbers in ODI cricket this year. The Delhi lad played 14 ODI matches, scoring 1202 runs at a mind-boggling average of 133.53. Virat Kohli also notched up 6 more centuries in ODI cricket, taking his tally in the format to 38 centuries, just 11 centuries behind Sachin Tendulkar. Virat Kohli also ended the year on a high note as captain, winning 2 of the first 3 Tests in the ongoing 4-Test series in Australia, becoming the first Indian captain in the past few decades to achieve this feat. Well, if 2018 was anything to go by, the world will have to watch out for the run-scoring juggernaut in the Cricket World Cup in 2019.1/28
Mithali Raj Controversy:
It all started with an in-form Mithali Raj (the most senior player in the Indian women's cricket team) being excluded from the playing 11 against England in the semi-final of the Women's World T20. India collapsed to an eight-wicket defeat and questions were asked from all quarters about the surprising omission of India's star batsman from the team. However, the Indian skipper Harmanpreet defended her decision. "Whatever we decided, we decided for the team. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, no regrets. I'm proud of the way my girls played through the tournament," Harmanpreet said at the post-match presentation ceremony. Breaking her silence, Mithali Raj said, "For the first time in a 20 year long career, I felt deflated, depressed and let down. I am forced to think if my services to my country are of any value to a few people in power who are out to destroy me and break my confidence," she wrote in a letter to BCCI CEO Rahul Johri and Cricket Operations GM Saba Karim.2/28
On Ramesh Powar, Team India's coach at the time, Mithali Raj narrated a series of instances where she felt slighted. "For instance, walking off if I am sitting anywhere around, watching in the nets when others bat but choosing to walk away when I am batting in nets, if I try to go up to him to talk to start looking into his phone and keep walking. "It was embarrassing and very evident to everyone that I was being humiliated. Yet I never lost my cool," she said.3/28
After Mithali Raj's account, Ramesh Powar came out and gave his side of the story. "Out of panic, the team manager took the physio to her (Raj's) room to check on her. As described by the team manager, Mithali wanted to go back home as she was very upset that the coach is not looking after a legend player like her. She threw a lot of tantrums and created chaos. The team manager and physio tried their best to calm her. We immediately called Syed Saba Karim (BCCI GM) and informed the matter. Saba sir told us to sort the matter out amicably. Saba sir also told us to concentrate on the crucial and important World Cup semi-final match," Powar stated in his report which is submitted to BCCI CEO Rahul Johri and General Manager Saba Karim.
Ramesh Powar said Mithali's issue took away precious preparation time before the semis. "Within some time, Mithali shot a message on the team manager's phone that she does not want to speak with the coach. Her irresponsible behaviour took my time away as I was supposed to speak with a few players regarding preparations for the all-important semi-final match, which could not happen. Biju George [fielding coach] gave feedback that Mithali was not interested in fielding drills with intensity. He tried to convince her every time but she did not improve," he stated.4/28
'Dad's Army' Chennai Super Kings Turn Destiny's Children With Third IPL Title:
Chennai's journey to their third IPL title has been nothing short of a fairytale. Coming back into the fold after a two-year suspension and to win the title straightaway is an enormous feat. Chennai chased down Hyderabad's 178-6 with eight wickets and nine balls to spare despite Bhuvneshwar Kumar kick-starting the proceedings for the Orange army with a maiden and then restricting them to 35-1 in the Powerplay.
Chennai not only bossed over Hyderabad in the final at the Wankhede Stadium, but MS Dhoni's men also created T20 history by beating Kane Williamson's team four times in the tournament.5/28
Bajrang Punia's Gold for India at the 2018 Asian Games:
Bajrang Punia battled his way to India's first gold medal at the Asian Games like a Gladiator, just like in the Hindi dubbed version of the English hit movie shown to him before his bouts by personal coach — Georgian Emzario Bentinidis — as a motivational exercise. Bajrang beat Japan's Takatani Daichi 11-8 to win gold in the 65kg category in a see-saw battle that had everyone at the Jakarta Convention Centre Assembly Hall here on the edge of their seats. I want to dedicate this medal to our former Prime Minister, late Atal Bihari Vajpayee," Bajrang said immediately after his win.6/28
Vinesh Phogat Creates History, Wins Gold at Asian Games 2018:
Vinesh Phogat became India's first female wrestler to win Asian Games gold after convincing herself that she should not settle for silver or bronze. Less than two years ago, a crying Vinesh Phogat's image at the Rio Olympics, where she hurt her knee and had to concede her match against China's Sun Yanan, was one of the most emotional moments for India and the wrestler. Vinesh could not stop smiling after powering her way to the gold medal in the 50kg category, beating Japan's Yuki Irie 6-2 at the Jakarta Convention Centre Assembly Hall. Vinesh Phogat said, "I said to myself before going into today's final that enough of these bronze and silver medals, it's high time I got a gold medal now. I'm glad to have lived up to my own expectations."7/28
Boxer Mary Kom Creates History, Wins Record Sixth World Championship Gold:
India's Mary Kom, the mother-of-three did, without breaking a sweat, what no other woman boxer has done or known before. Moments after Mary Kom became the most successful boxer in the history of women's world championships by beating Ukraine's Hanna Okhota in a unanimous 5-0 verdict in the 48kg category summit bout, young Sonia Chahal settled for a silver medal after losing her final. The feisty Manipuri now has an incredible six gold and one silver in the showpiece, the last yellow metal coming in 2010 at Bridgetown.8/28
Hima Das creates history by winning the women's 400-metre event at the IAAF World U20:
Hima Das is the new sporting sensation of the nation after winning the first ever track and field Gold for India at an international event. The girl from Assam won the 400m Gold in 51.46 seconds at the IAAF World U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland.9/28
France Defeat Croatia To Lift the FIFA World Cup 2018 Title:
France clinched its second World Cup title with a 4-2 win over Croatia in a dramatic final in Moscow featuring a series of firsts and a pitch invasion orchestrated by Russian protest group Pussy Riot. France led 2-1 at halftime courtesy of the first own-goal and the first video-reviewed penalty in a World Cup final. The own-goal off the top of Mario Mandzukic's head was the 12th of the tournament. That's double the previous World Cup record of six.10/28
Kylian Mbappe was the hero of the FIFA World Cup 2018:
Kylian Mbappe rose to fame in the FIFA World Cup 2018, with his rapid pace and goal-scoring exploits to lead France to glory. The highlight of the tournament being when France faced Argentina in the Round of 16 knockout match, all eyes were on Lionel Messi, but 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe stole the show with his two goals and spearing runs in-between Argentina's defence. France won the match 4-2 and thereby kncoking Lionel Messi out of the World Cup.11/28
Ravi Shastri's b**** in the mouth comment:
Apart from India's iconic wins in cricket this year, India's head coach Ravi Shastri stole the limelight on a few occasions with his epic oneliners. In one such instance, India registered a hard-fought victory over hosts Australia in the first Test of the India vs Australia series at Adelaide by 31 runs. But the gruelling victory was overshadowed by Ravi Shastri's witty reaction to India's win. Speaking to Sunil Gavaskar in a post-match interview, Ravi Shastri revealed that for some time, when Australia got close to the target, his 'b**** were in his mouth!'12/28
Well we understand Ravi Shastri's feelings as the head coach of the Indian team, he might just have voiced what millions of Indians were feeling during the match. The comment took Twitter by storm and users started trolling Ravi Shastri in the funniest ways possible. One Twitter user even went on to say that 'Ravi Shastri is the 'Real' man of the match.13/28
Australian Cricket hit by Ball Tampering Storm:
Australian opening batsman Cameron Bancroft was caught by television cameras, tampering with the ball during the third day of the third Test against South Africa in March this year. Bancroft was spoken to by umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth during the 43rd over of South Africa's second innings after appearing to have an object in his hand after fielding the ball at cover. After the day's play, Bancroft was quoted as saying: "I had discussions with the match officials, I've been charged with attempting to change the condition of the ball. "We had a discussion during the break and I saw an opportunity to use some tape, get some granules from the rough patches on the wickets and change the condition, it didn't work, the umpires didn't change the ball. I was cited on the screen and that resulted in me shoving it down my trousers." While the umpires were conferring, Bancroft appeared to place a small yellow object in his underpants. When the umpires went across to talk to him, he reached into a pocket and showed them what seemed to be a different object — what looked like a soft pouch for sunglasses. The umpires took no action and did not change the ball. There were boos from a capacity crowd at Newlands when the incident was shown on the big screen at the ground.14/28
Cameron Bancroft along-with Australian captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner were fined by the ICC for their involvement in the episode, but what followed shocked the cricketing fraternity. Cricket Australia decided to take harsh measures and asked Steve Smith and David Warner to step down from their positions for the rest of the match. Both Steve Smith and David Warner were given 1 year bans each, from International cricket. Cameron Bancroft was given a similar but lighter punishment, and the trio were made into criminals by the sporting world.15/28
Then coach of the Australian cricket team, Darren Lehmann, who was given a clean chit in the saga, stepped down from his post in tears and asking for forgiveness from the Australian public, to not be able to control his players.16/28
Serena Williams loses her cool on the chair umpire in the US Open final:
How did it start?
Serena Williams was unhappy to be given a code violation for coaching early in the second set. Players are not allowed to receive coaching from anyone in the stands and umpire Carlos Ramos saw Williams's coach Patrick Mouratoglou making a gesture.
Coach admits to tips
Yes, Mouratoglou admitted to ESPN that he was coaching, but claimed all coaches do it, something that is widely accepted but inconsistently penalised. Williams told Ramos she would rather lose than cheat. The American is one of the few players never to call their coaches on court, which is allowed on the WTA Tour, and said they had never discussed hand signals.
What happened next?
Williams smashed her racket after dropping serve in the fifth game. A second violation, even though not for the same offence, results in a point penalty. There was no dispute about this warning, a broken racket is an instant violation.
Why was she penalised a game?
Having not initially realised she would be penalised a point, Williams continued to protest to Ramos at the next change of ends. When she called Ramos a liar and a thief for taking a point off her, the Portuguese official decided to issue another violation, which resulted in a game penalty.
Was he right on this one?
Technically, yes. The Grand Slam rule book states: "Verbal abuse is defined as a statement about an official, opponent, sponsor, spectator or other person that implies dishonesty or is derogatory, insulting or otherwise abusive."
How did Williams take it?
Not well. Williams became tearful as she argued that male players say worse things to umpires and are not given code violations and later accused Ramos of sexism.
Does she have a point?
Perhaps. The issue once again is one of consistency. On the scale of verbal abuse, this was fairly minor, but it was still a breach. Umpires can give so-called soft warnings, and Ramos applied the letter of the law where maybe a different approach could have been taken. Whether it was sexist or not is much harder to determine.17/28
Serena Williams lost her cool and verbally abused the umpire, calling him a 'liar' and a 'thief'. The American tennis star was docked $10,000 for 'verbal abuse' of the chair umpire, $4000 for being warned for coaching from the stands, and $3,000 for smashing and breaking her racket from her $1.85 million prize money that she won after finishing as the runner-up against Osaka.18/28
Roger Federer Wins Australian Open For 20th Grand Slam Title:
Swiss ace Roger Federer defended his Australian Open crown by getting past Croatian Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in a rip-roaring men's singles final in Melbourne. The win saw Federer join an elite list where only three players in the history of the sport have won 20 or more Grand Slam titles - Steffi Graf (22), Serena Williams (23) and Margaret Court (24). The victory also put Federer alongside Novak Djokovic and Roy Emerson with six Australian Open titles apiece. In 2017, he beat arch-rival Rafael Nadal in five sets.19/28
Novak Djokovic Wins US Open Title, Equals Pete Sampras' Record:
With the win, the 31-year-old won his second straight Grand Slam title and added 14th overall in his kitty. Swiss maestro Roger Federer has 20 titles while Spaniard Rafael Nadal has 17. The third championship title at the Flushing Meadows also saw Djokovic join legend Pete Sampras at the third position on the career list for Grand Slam titles.20/28
Novak Djokovic Beats Kevin Anderson in Wimbledon final, Wins 13th Grand Slam:
Novak Djokovic raced to a fourth Wimbledon title and 13th career Grand Slam crown on Sunday when he defeated a battling but exhausted Kevin Anderson 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (7/3). World number 21 Djokovic added the 2018 title to his wins in 2011, 2014 and 2015 as he became the lowest-ranked champion since Goran Ivanisevic in 2001. It also took his Slam total to within one of Pete Sampras and just four behind the 17 of Rafael Nadal who he defeated in the semi-finals.21/28
Rafael Nadal Is The King Of Clay, Bags 11th French Open Crown:
Rafael Nadal roared to French Open title number 11 with a straight-set demolition of Dominic Thiem. The Spaniard continued his extraordinary domination at Roland Garros with a ruthless 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 victory. Seventh seed Thiem is the only player to have beaten Nadal on clay in the past two years, and he claimed he had a plan to thwart the Spaniard in Paris. But once a competitive first set went the way of the world number one, the plan became damage limitation and Nadal's 'undecima' never looked in any doubt.22/28
Angelique Kerber Stuns Serena Williams For First Wimbledon Title:
Angelique Kerber became the first German woman to win Wimbledon for 22 years as the 11th seed shattered Serena Williams' bid for Grand Slam history with a shock 6-3, 6-3 victory in final. Kerber avenged her defeat against Williams in the 2016 Wimbledon title match, overwhelming the seven-time champion with a stunning 65-minute upset on Centre Court. "I knew I had to play my best tennis against a champion like Serena," Kerber said.23/28
Lewis Hamilton Wins Fifth Formula 1 Championship:
Hamilton claimed his fifth drivers' world championship to draw level with Juan Manuel Fangio in the Formula One record books when he finished fourth behind a victorious Max Verstappen in the Mexican Grand Prix. Hamilton's success — the third time he has taken the title without finishing on the race podium — elevated him to a supreme club alongside Fangio with only seven-time champion Michael Schumacher ahead of him. He was adding the 2018 crown to his championship wins in 2008, 2014, 2015 and 2017. The Briton's only remaining championship rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari, who needed a victory, with Hamilton outside the top seven, to keep his hopes alive, finished second.
F1's top title winners
. Michael Schumacher: 7
. Juan Manuel Fangio: 5
. Lewis Hamilton: 5
. Sebastian Vettel: 4
. Alain Prost: 4
. Ayrton Senna, Nelson Piquet, Niki Lauda, Jackie Stewart, Jack Brabham: 324/28
Manchester City Win English Premier League Title:
Manchester City became EPL champions for the third time, their fifth title in England's first division league and the first under Spanish coach Pep Guardiola. City clinched the first division league title in 1936-1937 and 1967-1968, while they have won the competition in its current form twice -- in 2011-2012 and 2013-2014. "Record-smashing, goal-scoring, swashbuckling and awe-inspiring - Guardiola has overseen a scintillating campaign, setting new standards of brilliance in English football," Man City said in their website.25/28
Naomi Osaka upsets her idol Serena Williams to lift the US Open Title:
The killer instinct that carried Japan's Naomi Osaka to a first Grand Slam title evaporated as she hugged her idol Serena Williams after beating her in a controversial US Open final. Osaka said it wasn't the ire of the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd – angered at penalties meted out to Williams – but just the realisation that she'd robbed the US great who inspired her career of a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title. "I know that she really wanted to have the 24th Grand Slam," said Osaka, who choked up again herself trying to explain her feelings. "When I step onto the court, I feel like a different person, right? I'm not a Serena fan. I'm just a tennis player playing another tennis player. "But then when I hugged her at the net I felt like a little kid again."26/28
Super Simona Nails It in French Open Final:
Simona Halep fought back from a set and a break down to finally claim her first Grand Slam title by beating Sloane Stephens 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in a gruelling French Open final. The World No. 1 had lost all three of her previous major finals, including two at Roland Garros, but staged a thrilling comeback to win after two hours and three minutes. "In the last game I felt like I could not breathe anymore", said Halep. It was the perfect way for the Romanian to banish the demons of her painful final defeat by Jelena Ostapenko 12 months ago, when she blew a lead of a set and 3-0. US Open champion Stephens had looked set to lift a second Grand Slam trophy when leading 6-3, 2-0, but the American 10th seed wilted in hot conditions and Halep pounced.27/28
Caroline Wozniacki Lifts Her First Grand Slam Title at the Australian Open:
Wozniacki finally lifted her first Grand Slam title at the 43rd attempt as she beat Simona Halep 7-6 (7-2), 3-6, 6-4 to win the Australian Open. The Dane, burst into tears as she secured the title against the battling Romanian top seed on her first match point of a gruelling, epic encounter.28/28
About The Gallery
Virat Kohli headlined 2018 with his aggressive attitude on and off the field, but there were others who took the spotlight as well, including Vinesh Phogat, who won the Asian Games gold, to France winning the FIFA WC. Here's a recap of 2018's biggest newsmakers in the world of sport.