Posted by: kcgadiyar | February 17, 2011

Biggest Indian sporting disappointments (which i can remember)

So the World Cup starts again this Saturday, and as with every World Cup there is an excitement in the air. But mixed in with this excitement is that feeling of “What if India does not win?”, this got me thinking of sporting disappointments that we as Indian fans have been subject to. This list is composed purely of disappointments i can remember and is probably not a comprehensive list, these are losses which have had a major impact on me as a fan. So lets begin:

Indian Football as a whole: Let’s get this one out of the way first. Every 4 years, most of India watches the football world cup and the discussion inevitably turns to when India will finally compete in the tournament. After following Indian football since we were thrashed 6-0 by Qatar ( i think) in 1996. I have seen our World Cup qualification campaigns end mere weeks after they begin and seen how the coverage of this is relegated to a small box in the corner of the sports page. After 15 years of following Indian football, i am convinced that the only way we will qualify for the World Cup is if we are somehow picked to host the tournament. So for making me lose complete and total faith in the sport of football in India, this ranks as a disappointment.

Vishwanathan Anand loses to Gary Kasparov in 1995:

This was the first time i remember chess being in the sports pages in India. And i actually followed this World Championship match daily. The matches were played at the World Trade Center in NYC and i remember the channels which existed at that time having special coverage for this match. When Anand actually took the lead in the match i remember the channels going crazy and there was excitement that the Chess World Champion would be Indian, but then Kasparov made his comeback and Anand lost. Now, in the grand scheme of Indian sport, this may not seem particularly heartbreaking since Anand was the underdog who fought well and finally got his due 8 years later. But to a 10 year old kid hoping that India wins something somewhere (Indian sport was going through a bad phase at this time) this was a huge disappointment.

All of Sydney 2000: This was the first Olympics i watched in a dedicated manner i.e. i watched most events India was competing in as well as the marquee events. This was a disappointment for India from top to bottom despite Malleswari’s bronze winning effort. Of course, one specific instance from this Olympics stood above everything else for me personally and that was..

..India vs Poland in Field Hockey:

If we go back in Indian sport history, we can pinpoint the game-changing moments. For example, Indian cricket was never the same after Kolkata 2001 as it went from strength to strength. Similarly, this moment right here is when Indian hockey started its descent into shambles. I was watching this match live, and with 2 freaking minutes to go, India were on their way to the semifinals. We had dominated the match against the Poles and despite squandering plenty of chances in front of goal, we were leading 1-0. A goal up, 2 minutes left on the clock, 2 minutes to defend and qualify for the semis. Surely, we couldn’t screw this up, right? Unfortunately we could, we lost the ball, Poland moved forward and scored in the 69th minute of 70. Watching this match was a rollercoaster of emotions, from elation to despire in one stroke.I firmly believe that if we had made the semis, Indian hockey would have been in a much better place currently.

India vs Bangladesh 2007: We get to the first of 3 cricketing disappointments. This match somehow had an air of inevitability about it from the moment Sehwag was out. This defeat was not so much an upset as it was a team finally playing to their potential, unfortunately that team was Bangladesh.

India vs Zimbabwe 1999: This match remains the only time i have ever cried because of the result of a sporting event. When Venkatesh Prasad got out LBW to Henry Olonga, i am pretty sure a lot of TV sets were broken in frustration. This match ended up ultimately costing India a semifinal berth in the World Cup and is one of the few matches which i am sure everyone can tell you exactly where they were when the end came.

Paes and Bhupathi vs Ancic and Ljubicic, Bronze Medal match, 2006 Olympics:

This was a classic match. It went on and on and on and ended at 4:30 in the morning after having started just prior to midnight. This was a disappointment because it was the last opportunity Paes and Bhupathi had of an Olympic medal. The tensions between them had already boiled over and they were still playing together but not out of choice at this point. At one point in this match, Paes and Bhupathi had 3 match points which they could not convert. I think it was at that point that i realized i was watching a losing battle being played out. As it stands, they lost 20-18 in the 3rd set, but i think the match was lost much earlier

Finally, the biggest disappointment i can remember

The Cricket world cup final, 2003:

You knew this one was coming. Who doesn’t remember that feeling of being completely and totally excited for India to win back the World Cup and then Zaheer Khan came steaming in to bowl and then….. he bowled a massive wide… followed by another massive wide and after what seemed like an eternity, the first over was finally completed and India had already effectively lost the game. One thing to be happy about is that after the first over was done there was never a point when it seemed like India might win the match. So thankfully we were spared a major heartbreak which would have happened if the match had gotten close. But to this day, most people still debate “Did Ganguly make the right call by deciding to field after winning the toss?” A question whose answer we will never know.

So those were my biggest sporting disappointments. Here is hoping that India can pull off the victory this time and banish old memories. Feel free to add anything i may have missed.



  1. You forgot the India-Pakistan test match in Chennai when Tendulkar cried.

    • Hmm… I must have blocked that from my memory completely due to its traumatizing nature 🙂

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