Kolkata: Former Team India coach Anil Kumble is now a favourite to win the inaugural Indian Sports Honours award founded by RP-SG group in partnership with Virat Kohli foundation. Kumble is competing with Bisheshwar Nandi (gymnastics), Balwan Singh (kabaddi), Harendra Singh (hockey) and Vijay Davecha (golf) for the award. The winners will be announced at a ceremony to be held in Mumbai on November 11.
The great Indian cricket drama between Anil Kumble and Team India skipper Virat Kohli grabbed the limelight when the former coached Indian cricket team. Kumble enjoyed a very successful stint with the men in blue. Virat Kohli and co defeated teams like New Zealand, England, Australia, Bangladesh, and West Indies to reach the No.1 position in ICC Test rankings during his tenure. The partnership hit a new low after Champions Trophy final loss against Pakistan leading to his ouster from the team .
There are eight categories including sportsman of the year which has pitted cricketers Cheteshwar Pujara, R Ashwin and Hardik Pandya against each other. They will fight it out with kabbadi player Pardeep Narwal, Indian football team skipper Sunil Chhetri and hockey star Rupinder Pal Singh.
The categories also include sportswoman of the year award in team sport where Indian hockey stars Deepika Thakur , Rani Rampal and cricketers Deepti Sharma, Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur are vying for honours.
The finalists for the sportswoman of the year award in individual sport are Olympic silver and bronze medalist duo of PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik along with gymnast Dipa Karmakar, athlete Lalita Babar and tennis ace Sania Mirza.
For the male category in individual sport, javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, cue sports ace Pankaj Advani, golfer SSP Chawrasia, and in-form shuttler Kidambi Srikanth are the finalists in the race for the best sportsperson of the year award.
In the team event category, the Indian junior hockey team, the senior cricket, hockey and kabaddi teams and women's cricket and hockey teams vie for the top award.
The other categories are Emerging Sportswoman of the year Aditi Ashok (golf), Ritu Phogat (wrestling), Smriti Mandhana (cricket); and Emerging sportsman of the year Harmanpreet Singh (hockey), Neeraj Chopra (athletics), Ramkumar Ramanathan (tennis), Sameer Verma (badminton) and Vidit Santosh Gujarathi (chess).
The jury is chaired by former all-England champion and chief national badminton coach Puellela Gopichand, and also comprises multiple Grand Slam winner Mahesh Bhupathi, legendary sprinter PT Usha, former world number one shooter Anjali Bhagwat and former India hockey captain Arjun Halappa.
Terming this an "authentic" sports award, Bhupathi said: "Having an award at the end of a season not only inspires youth but recognises the past players. It's exciting to have an authentic sport award in the country. I don't think we have one. It will definitely create an aspiration to achieve more."