2021, A look back
The Edict Sports Team | February 12, 2022
2021 was a year that fulfilled every emotion we search for as sports enthusiasts. Here are the Edict’s picks for their six best events of the year gone by.
A memorable and definitive storming of Fortress Gabba
- Kartikay Dutta
There is a feeling in the air that the Indian men’s Test cricket team we are watching at the minute is something special. They’re not perfect, not even close — they have their faults and their own host of mistakes, but it is the success that they are able to achieve despite being beaten, broken, bruised, and fractured that sets them at a level above. The year began with two of India’s most iconic Test matches: the draw at the Sydney Cricket Ground, and the famous victory at the Gabba in Brisbane, both coming against all sorts of odds.
It was a c-string team put out for that final Test match in Australia, the Rishabh Pant-inspired late middle-order chasing down 328 late on day 5 at a ground nicknamed the Gabbatoir for the Australians’ routine mauling of touring opposition at that venue. In a situation where most would have curled up and tried to play for the draw, it was made clear that as much as ability, it will be the heart, fire, and application put on show that shoots this young Indian team to stardom over the next decade and more.
The 20 seconds that changed the finals
- Chinmay Menon
There were 20 seconds left on the game clock. It was game 5 of the 2021 NBA Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns with the series tied at 2-2. The Suns had successfully clawed their way back from a 12-point deficit in the fourth and final quarter and were only down by a point. After a forced shot and a miss by Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday, Devin Booker secured the rebound and slowly dribbled it up to the frontcourt looking to seal the game. For the Bucks, this didn’t look good. Booker had shown up throughout the entire series having averaged 28.2 points, 4 assists, and 3.5 rebounds up till then. This game had been no different with him having scored 40 up till then. The Suns were also seen as the favorites heading into the series due to their form throughout the playoffs.
As the game clock hit the 18-second mark, Booker exploded and drove through the centre. Now, drive-ins and mid-range shots had been in his favour throughout the game as he had been able to get to his shooting spots with ease. But alas, it finally failed him. As he drove in, Jrue Holiday, showing his much-reputed defensive prowess, stripped the ball of Booker. All of a sudden, the Bucks had the advantage with an opportunity to seal the game. Holiday immediately led the fastbreak towards the basket with the Suns’ Chris Paul being the only defender ahead. However, instead of driving towards the basket, Holiday curiously went towards the three-point line, hence luring Chris Paul too. Only once he had cleared half the distance between them, did Paul realize Holiday’s plan as he saw Giannis behind him cutting towards the basket. Alas, it was too late by then. The 7-foot Greek reigning MVP and defensive player of the year jumped up for the lob by Holiday and dunked the ball in just as Paul reached him and contested the shot with a push. Foul. Basket. Game.
Etched in history
- Amiya Kumar
Sports fans were spoilt for choice during the summer of 2021, owing to a thrilling F1 title fight,
action-packed Wimbledon and gripping Champions league. However, there can be no doubt in the fact that the Tokyo Olympics was the pièce de résistance. The year marked India’s most commendable performance in Olympic history. Other than our usual stellar accomplishments in wrestling, hockey and boxing, for the very first time, we saw Indians shine in sports like golf and fencing. Even though we did not find ourselves on the podium in these sports, it is laudable to see how far we have come as a nation. The crowning moment of the games was undoubtedly Neeraj Chopra’s indomitable javelin throw that will be etched in history, making him the second-ever individual to bring home a gold medal. Citizens across India were left teary-eyed after hearing the sound of the national anthem after thirteen years and for the first time ever in athletics. Not only did Neeraj Chopra give India a reason to celebrate, but also strengthened their belief that they can do wonders in sports that are not conventionally associated with the nation.
The Return of the Honey Badger
- Ashwin Menon
Picture this. The chequered flag comes down at the 2021 Monza Grand Prix and the crowd goes wild. Two orange Mclarens cross the line. You must be wondering, is that Lando Norris? Or you must be wondering, is this 2020 and is that Carlos Sainz? Then you hear a familiar voice on the team radio. A voice of a man who some thought was finished after his stint at Red Bull. A voice of a man who some thought made a huge mistake by leaving Renault(now Alpine) for the Woking-based team. It was the voice of a man who had just reminded the world what Red Bull had seen in him all those years ago. Daniel Riccardo crossed the line for his first win since Monaco 2018. While it could be argued that he was fortunate with the Verstappen-Hamilton debacle at Turn 1, and was also helped by his teammate Lando Norris thwarting repeated challenges from Perez, Leclerc, Sainz and Bottas, it takes nothing away from the consistently high pace shown by him throughout the weekend. Riccardo fans were running out of ways to justify his lack of pace in the Mclaren compared to a much younger Lando Norris who often finished two or more places above him. We were almost led to believe we would never see a trademark shoey again much less a win from the Australian. But against all the odds he delivered. With that, he also delivered Mclaren's first win since 2012. Next season looks promising for the team, especially since we know that both Lando and now Ricciardo still have what it takes to produce big results.
The King of Clay crumbles
- Arjun Khanna
Few sportspeople have built the reputation of being nearly invincible in their respective sports. Yet, every time they defend their status as the greatest to do what they’re best at, there’s a different aura surrounding those moments, an unspoken nervousness within sporting fans, that history could be made that day. A similar feeling took over me when Rafael Nadal stepped onto Court Phillipe Chatrier in the 2021 semi-final of Roland Garros against his greatest rival, Novak Djokovic.
Rafa took charge early on in the match against one of only two men to have beaten him at Roland Garros, where he held a stellar 105-2 record at the time. Being one set up, Rafa entered familiar territory, he had never lost a best-of-five clay-court match after winning the first set in his 20-year career. However, Novak isn’t one to follow the script.
Fueled by his break of Rafa’s serve towards the end of the first set, Djokovic set the tone for the classic that was to follow. He levelled the proceedings by winning the second set. The next hour and a half provided not only the defining set of the match but a set of tennis for the ages. The advantage would continuously swing back and forth before Djokovic saved a crucial set point down 5-6 and sent the set to a tie-breaker. Whoever won the breaker would take both a one-set lead and all the momentum heading into the fourth; this was the match. What best described the intensity in that moment was the Paris authorities allowing the fans to stay beyond the night curfew in the city. After a nail-biting contest, Djokovic pulled away and took the breaker 7-4, and with that, all the momentum.
Novak sailed through the fourth set to hand Rafa only his third loss in 108 matches at Roland Garros. Something he considers, one of the greatest achievements of his career.
The Conquerors of the Estádio do Dragão
- Rohan Agarwal
Chelsea Football Club’s 2020/21 season was a rollercoaster ride to remember. From the tragic sacking of club legend, Frank Lampard, to lifting their second Champions League title against all odds under the German mastermind, Thomas Tuchel.
Chelsea’s decision to dismiss their clubs’ beloved was a ruthless one, one such that they are infamously famous for. Further, the appointment of Thomas Tuchel was a brave one.
Tuchel’s ability to understand the squad’s strengths and find a suitable system with the speed that he did was a testament to Chelsea’s success mantra.
Tuchel’s achievements in the remainder of the season with a team stranded in ninth place of the Premier League proved to be one of the greatest sporting achievements of 2021. With a tactically sound system, the foundation of which was a rock-solid defence, Chelsea’s renaissance began under the German.
It was the Champions League where Tuchel’s side struck gold. What was most impressive about Chelsea’s coup was that they achieved it in convincing fashion. They might not have inflicted a lot of damage upon their opponents going forward, but the Blues were clinical and largely untroubled by their opponents. Chelsea were able to let the game proceed on their terms and always seemed in control. They steamrolled past their opponents in dominant fashion, especially versus both the Madrid sides onroute to the final. In Chelsea’s knockout journey to the finals of the Champions League, they scored 8 goals and conceded just 2 in 6 matches.
It was the final where the Blues produced a performance for the ages. A performance that displayed their defensive compactness and ability to hurt opponents with devastating verticality. It was a hard-fought win for a title that was truly deserved. Tuchel’s journey to greatness with a squad once labelled as “not ready to compete” will go down in history of Chelsea and English Football.