‘Tis the year of the biggest multi-sport event – the Olympics. With the new year having just begun, now is a good time to get excited about all the sporting action 2020 has in store.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of the major sporting events of the year
Sri Lanka tour of India, Australia tour of India
When: Jan 5-19
Sri Lanka visit India for three T20Is, and Australia come following soon after for three ODIs to kick off the international cricket season.
India tour to New Zealand
When: Jan 24 – Mar 4
Virat Kohli takes the Indian team to New Zealand for five T20Is, three ODIs and two Test matches.
BWF World Tour
When: Starts Jan 7
The first Super 500 event of the year, the Malaysia Masters, gets things moving for the World Tour. The Indonesia Masters will follow a week later.
When: Jan 13-18
The WTA Tour Hobart International is slated to be India’s top women’s doubles player Sania Mirza’s comeback post motherhood. She will use this as a warm-up for the year’s first Grand Slam, the Australian Open, which gets underway on January 20.
FIH Pro League (Men’s)
When: Jan 18 – Jun 28
India host Netherlands in Bhubaneswar on January 18 and 19 to begin their participation in the home-and-away based Pro League’s second season. India will also host world champions Belgium, Australia and New Zealand later in the year, and travel away to Germany, Great Britain and Argentina. There’s no final this year, so while India complete their matches away to Spain on June 14, they will only know two weeks later where they finish on the points table.
When: Feb 18-23
A non-Olympic qualifier in Delhi, it will nevertheless be an important stopover on the way to Tokyo.
When: Feb 20-23
Melbourne hosts the Gymnastics World Cup, which contributes towards Olympic qualification in the sport. There will be two further World Cups in Baku and Doha in March, which will also serve as qualifiers. Can Indian gymnastics build on the foundation laid by Dipa Karmakar in Rio?
ICC Women’s T20 World Cup
When: Feb 21 – Mar 8
India are placed in a competitive group alongside defending champions and hosts Australia, and New Zealand in the 10-team tournament and must finish in the top-two to qualify for the knockouts. They begin their campaign against Australia in Sydney on the opening day.
Indian Super League playoffs
When: To be confirmed (final slated for Mar 8)
This year, the ISL playoffs are of somewhat academic interest, with the regular season’s top-two earning AFC places for themselves. The top-four still get to vie for the ISL crown, with FC Goa desperate to add their name to ATK, Chennaiyin FC and Bengaluru FC as ISL champions.
India’s World Cup/Asian Cup qualifiers
When: Resumes Mar 26
India host Qatar, having held them goalless last year during the joint qualification for Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023. India are winless, and will then have matches against Afghanistan and Bangladesh in June to round off their qualifiers. They are virtually out of World Cup qualifying, but where they finish on the points table will determine how many rounds of qualifiers they need to play for qualification to the next Asian Cup finals.
Davis Cup qualifiers – India vs Croatia
When: Mar 6-7
It’s an away tie for India, and they will need to be at their best to compete on an even keel with two-time champions Croatia. Win here, and they compete at the year-end finals in Madrid later in November. A defeat here will mean they have to go back to a Group I tie in September.
South Africa tour of India
When: Mar 12-18
South Africa, who visited India for Tests and T20Is in the autumn of 2019, come back for three ODIs, just ahead of the Indian Premier League, likely to begin on March 29.
When: Mar 6-7
India’s fencer and Olympic hopeful CA Bhavani Devi features in the sport’s first World Cup of the season in Athens. Her discipline, women’s sabre, will also be part of the second World Cup later in the month, in Belgium.
All England Open
When: Mar 11-15
Can PV Sindhu finally find herself at the end of Indian badminton’s holy grail? Find out if she can emulate Prakash Padukone or her coach Pullela Gopichand, when the All England Open gets underway.
World Cup Rifle/Pistol/Shotgun
When: Mar 17-25
India hosts the World Cup of shooting in Delhi. There is a large contingent of Indian shooters headed to the Olympics later on in the year. A medal rush here will be a massive boost of confidence.
When: Apr 16-25
It’s a gold event in the weightlifting calendar, and an Olympic qualifier to boot, as the best weightlifters from the continent get together in Nur-Sultan.
Doha Diamond League
When: Apr 17
About a year back, Neeraj Chopra was looking like a potential medal prospect for India at the 2020 Olympics. An injury has waylaid him since, but he will look to build some momentum back in his favour in the run-up to Tokyo.
Final Olympic qualifier
When: May 17-19
There will be opportunities before May, but this event in Lucerne, Switzerland will mark the last chance for India’s rowers to confirm their place in the start lists at the Olympics.
World singles Olympic qualifier
When: May 28-31
With Sathiyan Gnanasekaran improving by leaps and bounds in recent months, expect him to lead the Indian charge at this event, as Indian table tennis looks to make its biggest impact on the global stage yet.
Rani Rampal in action during the 2019 FIH Series Finals in Hiroshima. Hockey India
Women’s Asian Champions Trophy
When: Jun 14-21
Donghae, South Korea hosts the latest edition of the women’s Asian Champions Trophy. It was here that India lost to hosts Korea 1-0 to lose the title they held in 2018. With the Olympics just around the corner, this will be a massive tune-up for the Indian team.
Berlin World Cup
When: Jun 21-28
This event includes the final Olympic qualification for the season.
TOKYO 2020 OLYMPICS
When: Jul 24-Aug 9
The big one — can India improve on their best-ever showing of six medals at the London 2012 Games?
TOKYO 2020 PARALYMPICS
When: Aug 25-Sep 6
India’s para-athletes will be competing with the world’s best. There has been a steady flow of medals from them in past editions, and expect that trend to continue.
Asian Cup 2023 qualification
When: From Sep 3
Depending on where India finish in their World Cup qualifiers, they might be needed to start from the play-off stages of the Asian Cup 2023 qualification.
World Cup Final
When: Sep 26-27
The final venue has not been declared as yet, but India’s archers will hope to cap off a better 2020, putting behind administrative wrangles and lack of form to make this a year to remember.
ICC Men’s T20 World Cup
When: Oct 18 – Nov 15
The format’s inaugural world champions India begin their campaign in the 12-team competition with a match against South Africa in Perth on October 24.
FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup
When: Nov 2-21
Three years on from successfully hosting the men’s edition of the U-17 World Cup, India will front up for the women’s version this November. Former champions Japan and North Korea, the most successful nation in the history of the event, are the only other qualified sides with hosts India thus far, but expect those spots to be filled up rapidly for the 16-team event, where Spain are the reigning champions.
AFC Cup (the final)
When: November 7
There’s no telling which of the Indian teams will be there, but expect Bengaluru FC, and potentially Chennai City FC, to give everything they have to make the AFC Cup final in 2020. With BFC having experienced this in 2016, they will probably be the likelier of the two teams to be in the running to provide India their first club that conquers Asia.
Men’s Asian Champions Trophy
When: Nov 17-27
India will be looking to wrest the Asian Champions Trophy away from their shared win with Pakistan in Muscat in 2018 — that was necessitated due to inclement weather — and should start among the favourites in the field in Dhaka.
BWF World Tour Finals
When: Dec 9-13
The season-ending event in China will involve the most consistent players across all formats. How many Indians will be involved?