Email

Nail-biting finals, heartbreaking losses: Top 10 sporting moments of the year

The year 2019 saw historic finals (sometimes on the same day), record breaking contributions and heartbreaking losses.

Updated Dec 25, 2019 04:28pm

In the sporting world, 2019 was a year of tied matches, record breaking moments and for some, heartbreaking defeats. Social and political issues also made their way on to the field.

Here, Dawn.com looks back at the top 10 moments in sports during the year.

July 14 was arguably the most eventful day of the sporting calendar in 2019 — it featured the final of the One Day International Cricket World Cup as well as men's singles final of the Wimbledon. Neither of the finals disappointed and made their way to the history books.

England win first World Cup in super over

England's Eoin Morgan and team mates celebrate winning the world cup with the trophy on July 14. — Reuters
England's Eoin Morgan and team mates celebrate winning the world cup with the trophy on July 14. — Reuters

The ODI World Cup final left fans glued to their television screens till the very last ball. England secured their first World Cup title after they defeated New Zealand by the boundary count in a nerve-wracking final at Lord's which saw the two sides bat twice in the game.

Needing a modest 242 for victory, the hosts ended on 241 all out, with Ben Stokes unbeaten on 84, sending the match into a Super Over.

The six-ball shootout also ended in a tie, with both sides hitting 15 runs, but Eoin Morgan's side won by virtue of a superior boundary count in the match.

While England celebrated, it was another heart-breaking loss for New Zealand, who also finished as runners-up in the previous World Cup in 2015, having lost to Australia in the final.

Read: England win their first-ever World Cup after beating New Zealand in nerve-wracking super over

Longest Wimbledon final

Novak Djokovic lifts the trophy after defeating Roger Federer in the men's singles final match of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London on July 14. — AP via Forbes
Novak Djokovic lifts the trophy after defeating Roger Federer in the men's singles final match of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London on July 14. — AP via Forbes

Just seven miles from Lords, history was also made at the Wimbledon the very same Sunday. Novak Djokovic claimed his fifth Wimbledon title beating eight-time champion Roger Federer in the longest ever Wimbledon final which was settled by an unprecedented tie-break.

At 4 hours and 57 minutes it was the longest final at Wimbledon.

Federer was looking for his ninth Wimbledon title, while Djokovic was after his fifth.

Read: Djokovic beats Federer to win fifth Wimbledon title in longest ever final

The sporting bodies — International Cricket Council and Wimbledon — found comic relief in the historic matches underway the same day and shared a witty Twitter exchange.

Highly-anticipated Pakistan-India World Cup clash

Rohit Sharma celebrates reaching a half century during the Cricket World Cup match between India and Pakistan at Old Trafford on June 16. — AP
Rohit Sharma celebrates reaching a half century during the Cricket World Cup match between India and Pakistan at Old Trafford on June 16. — AP

At the Cricket World Cup, India extended their unblemished World Cup record against Pakistan after securing an 89-run victory via the Duckworth-Lewis method in the most anticipated group match of the tournament.

Contrary to the advice of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed had decided to bowl first in the clash between the arch rivals.

According to ICC, the Pakistan-India World Cup fixture was the most-watched match of the tournament, which itself became the "most watched ICC event ever".

The match came amidst strained relations between Pakistan and India. Earlier in the year, tensions between the two countries soared and some Indian fans and ex-players had called for India to boycott the match at Old Trafford.

Read: India continue unbeaten streak against Pakistan at World Cup

In February, a suicide bombing in occupied Kashmir killed 40 Indian troops. India and Pakistan then carried out tit-for-tat air strikes.

Following this, in March, the Indian team wore camouflage-style caps provided by MS Dhoni during an ODI against Australia as a tribute to the Indian armed forces. The ICC had said that the Indian cricket team was granted permission to wear the camouflage caps.

Indian cricket team members are seen wearing camouflage army caps during the third ODI match between India and Australia at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association International Cricket Stadium, in Ranchi in March. — AFP
Indian cricket team members are seen wearing camouflage army caps during the third ODI match between India and Australia at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association International Cricket Stadium, in Ranchi in March. — AFP

In June, however, cricket's governing body insisted Dhoni will not be allowed to wear an apparent military insignia on his World Cup wicket keeping gloves.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had defended Dhoni after he sported a dagger logo on his green gloves in India's win over South Africa.

Misbah appointed as head coach, chief selector

Former Pakistani cricket captain and newly appointed head coach of the national cricket team Misbahul Haq speaks during a press conference in Lahore on September 4.— AFP
Former Pakistani cricket captain and newly appointed head coach of the national cricket team Misbahul Haq speaks during a press conference in Lahore on September 4.— AFP

Meanwhile, on the domestic cricket front, in September, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) appointed former skipper Misbahul Haq to the joint position of head coach and chief selector for the men's team – marking the first the PCB handed the two positions to a single personality. Meanwhile, Waqar Younis was named the bowling coach.

Misbah's appointment drew mixed reactions from amongst the cricketing community. Batting legend Javed Miandad said Misbah should have been appointed as assistant coach first and then elevated.

Read: Coach Misbah

Unfortunately for Misbah, the Green Shirts have not performed well since his appointment to the dual role. They suffered a Twenty20 series whitewash against Sri Lanka followed by T20 and Test defeats against Australia.

Sana Mir shines for Team Pakistan

While the men's cricket team wasn't able to impress at the ODI World Cup, the women's team gave the country many occasions to be proud this year.

In May, off-spinner Sana Mir became the most successful women's ODI spinner in the world after she dismissed South Africa's Sune Luus in the third ODI of the ICC Women's Championship which ended in a thrilling tie at the Willowmoore Park.

Read: Sana Mir becomes world’s most successful women’s ODI spinner

In October, alongside six other trailblazing women from Asian countries, Mir was honoured with the 2019 Asia Society Game Changers award in recognition of their transformative impact in Asia and beyond.

Last month, she announced a break from international cricket. Mir, however, did not specify the duration of her break.

Rapinoe shines as Team USA wins football World Cup

United States' forward Megan Rapinoe poses with the Golden Ball after the France 2019 Women’s World Cup football final match between USA and the Netherlands, on July 7 at the Lyon Stadium in Lyon, central-eastern France. — AFP
United States' forward Megan Rapinoe poses with the Golden Ball after the France 2019 Women’s World Cup football final match between USA and the Netherlands, on July 7 at the Lyon Stadium in Lyon, central-eastern France. — AFP

In July, the United States won a record-extending fourth women’s football World Cup title with a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands.

Read: US win women’s football World Cup

The defending champions struggled to gain dominance for an hour before a Rapinoe penalty, her sixth goal of the tournament, broke the deadlock and a fine individual effort from Lavelle in the 69th minute put the outcome beyond doubt.

Rapinoe, who missed the team's semi-final win over England with a hamstring injury, became the first woman to score on a penalty kick during a World Cup final, her 50th goal in 158 international appearances. She matched Morgan and England’s Ellen White for most goals in the tournament and won the Golden Ball based on fewer minutes.

Earlier this month, Rapinoe won the women's Ballon d'Or award. Meanwhile, Lionel Messi claimed a record sixth men's Ballon d'Or award.

The team was also selected as TIME magazine's '2019 Athlete of the Year'.

Women allowed at football stadium in Iran

Iranian women cheer as they hold a huge Iranian flag during a soccer match between their national team and Cambodia in the 2022 World Cup qualifier at the Azadi (Freedom) Stadium in Tehran, Iran on October 10. — AP via Al-Jazeera
Iranian women cheer as they hold a huge Iranian flag during a soccer match between their national team and Cambodia in the 2022 World Cup qualifier at the Azadi (Freedom) Stadium in Tehran, Iran on October 10. — AP via Al-Jazeera

For the first time in decades, Iranian female fans in October were allowed to enter a football stadium in the country, after FIFA threatened to suspend it over its controversial male-only policy.

Iran had barred female spectators from football and other stadiums for around 40 years, with clerics arguing they must be shielded from the masculine atmosphere and sight of semi-clad men.

FIFA in September ordered Iran to allow women access to stadiums without restrictions and in numbers determined by demand for tickets.

The directive came after a fan, 29-year-old Sahar Khodayari, dubbed the "Blue Girl", died after setting herself on fire in fear of being jailed for dressing up as a boy to attend a match.

Read: Iran women allowed into football stadium for first time in decades

Liverpool take the Champions League throne

Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, left and Rhian Brewster celebrate with the trophy after Liverpool won the Champions League final soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid on June 1. — AP
Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, left and Rhian Brewster celebrate with the trophy after Liverpool won the Champions League final soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid on June 1. — AP

The Champions League — particularly the semi-final between Liverpool and Barcelona — was the highlight of men's football this year.

In June, Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspur to win the all-English Champion's League final in Madrid and take the trophy for the sixth time in the club's history.

Read: 'It means so much' — Liverpool beat Tottenham to win sixth European Cup

Ahead of the final, Liverpool staged a remarkable 4-0 win against Barcelona (4-3 on aggregate) that sent them to a second straight Champions League final.

Liverpool players faced a 3-0 deficit against Barcelona from the first leg of the Champions League semifinals. They faced the great Lionel Messi, perhaps in the best form of his life.

Adding to their woes before this match was fatigue from a grueling Premier League title race with Manchester City and the absence of two of the team's key forwards, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.

It took a goal of breathtaking quality but also extraordinary cheek to complete the greatest in a long line of famous comebacks by Liverpool.

Naomi Osaka consoles Gauff

Coco Gauff was overcome with emotion after a heavy defeat by Naomi Osaka at the US Open. — AFP
Coco Gauff was overcome with emotion after a heavy defeat by Naomi Osaka at the US Open. — AFP

Some sporting moments of the year were remembered for more than just athletic brilliance on the field. One such moment was at the women's US Open in September.

Defending champion Naomi Osaka overpowered 15-year-old Coco Gauff 6-3,6-0 in 65 minutes and secured a crushing US Open victory in a showdown billed as "the future of women's tennis".

The victory, however, became memorable for the way Osaka consoled a tearful Gauff after the match. She shared a warm embrace with an an opponent overwhelmed by the occasion in the New York spotlight.

The emotional clash was followed by tearful on-court interviews, Osaka asking Gauff to join her with the microphone as they met at the net.

"It was kind of instinctive because when I shook her hand, I saw that she was kind of tearing up a little. Then it reminded me how young she was," Osaka said.

"I wanted her to have her head high, not walk off the court sad. I want her to, like, be aware that she's accomplished so much and she's still so young."

Read: 'Amazing' Osaka thrashes tearful Gauff at US Open

Overlooked sporting highlights of 2019

The year also witnessed some sporting moments that failed to garner the same attention as blockbuster events on the sporting calendar such as the ODI World Cup. These moments, however, placed Pakistan on the world map in a range of sports.

Mohammad Asif arrives in Karachi after winning the title of the IBSF World Snooker Championship on November 11. — DawnNewsTV
Mohammad Asif arrives in Karachi after winning the title of the IBSF World Snooker Championship on November 11. — DawnNewsTV

Last month, second seed Mohammad Asif won the title of the IBSF World Snooker Championship. Asif coasted to an 8-5 victory over unseeded Jefrey Roda of Philippines in the final of the championship in Antalya, winning the title for the second time.

In a first, 12-year-old Mallak Faisal Zafar became the first Pakistani to win first-place laurels for figure skating at the 24th International Eiscup Inssbruck, Austria's largest figure skating competition in the Basic Novice Girls II category.

Pakistani athletes also bagged gold medals at the South Asian Games earlier this month. Talen­ted Pakistani judoka Shah Hussain Shah won the gold medal in the tough-100kg category to help his country complete a century of medals at the games.

Additionally, Pakis­tan’s weightlifters Talha Talib, Usman Rathore, Muhammad Hanzala Dastgir and Nooh Butt showed impressive skills to grab four more gold medals. Hamid Ali, Pakistani judoka, won all the league matches against India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka to clinch a gold medal in the +100kg category.

Read: Pakistan’s weightlifters, martial artists bring in more golds at SA Games

In swimming, Bisma Khan won a silver medal while in boxing, Sanaullah bagged a silver medal in the 91kg category after he lost the final fight to an Indian boxer.

Meanwhile, in squash, team Pakistan earned back to back victories over hosts Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the men and women’s squash events respectively.


Header illustration by Mushba Said.