Two Sindhu epics and the U-17 WC final in our Match of the Year nominees

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Nominees for the Match Of The Year 2017. (2:02)

Sindhu's two heartbreaking losses in tournament finals and the thrilling U-17 World Cup final feature in our Match of the Year nominees. Here are our nominations for the match of the year:

Saina beats Sindhu in nationals final

The game

Saina Nehwal vs. PV Sindhu, national championships final, Nagpur

How it unfolded

Saina caused a huge upset by defending pre-tournament favourite Sindhu 21-17, 27-25 in the final after Sindhu saved as many as five match points. The win gave Saina her third national title, with her previous two wins coming in 2006 and 2007. Saina's improved fitness and her reunion with Pullela Gopichand were the two major factors that helped her to avenge her loss against Sindhu at the India Open earlier in the year. With Sindhu having played a lot more in the lead up to the nationals, Saina's better movement stood out on the day.

What they said

"I think it was a very difficult game for me. Sindhu is world number 2 at the moment. I was expecting this to be very tough for me. I was able to move well today, and I was able to pick up her shots. I am really happy."

- Saina on her display in the final

England beat Spain 5-2 in U-17 World Cup final

The game

England vs. Spain, U-17 World Cup final, October 28, 2017, Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata

How it unfolded

Spain went ahead 2-0 inside 31 minutes, with Barcelona's Sergio Gomez scoring both goals. England kept attacking, though, and found one goal on the brink of half-time. In the second half, both teams produced attacking football, but Spain wilted under the pressure of England's attack, inspired by Manchester City's Phil Foden, who scored two as England ran out 5-2 winners in the first FIFA event on Indian soil.

What they said

"We have played the way that we want the England team to play. 2-0 down and to win 5-2 in a World Cup final and not one long ball. Pass, pass, pass. We have a plan that we can do at the very best and against the very best."

- England U-17 coach Steve Cooper, speaking after the final.

Sindhu's World Championsip final against Okuhara

The game

PV Sindhu vs. Nozomi Okuhara, World Championships final, Glasgow, August 28

How it unfolded

It wouldn't be a grave exaggeration to say that the 110 minutes of badminton spectacle that PV Sindhu and her Japanese opponent Nozomi Okuhara put on display at the World Championships was one of the finest ever in the history of the sport. Exacting every ounce of energy, grit and will from each other, both players soldiered on, retrieving every shuttle and the eventual score-line 19-21, 22-20, 19-21, with Sindhu saving three match points in the decider, was proof of a match steeped in greatness.

In their own words

"It was mentally and physically very tough. We didn't leave any shuttle. I was prepared for a long match but I guess it was not my day."

- Sindhu on what went wrong for her on the big day

Aizawl clinching the I-League with a 1-1 draw in Shillong

The game

Shillong Lajong FC vs. Aizawl FC, I-League, 30th April 2017, Nehru Stadium, Shillong

How it unfolded

Aizawl FC scripted the most romantic and improbable of victories when they claimed the I-League title with an excruciatingly tense draw against Shillong Lajong in Shillong.

Aizawl needed a draw to win the title, but Lajong scored first through Aser Dipanda Dicka on nine minutes, and it took Aizawl until the 67th minute to pull one back through William Lalnunfela. Aizawl were pushed hard in the end by the home side, who had two great chances to score. There could be no other explanation -- Aizawl's title win was just meant to be.

In their own words

"I couldn't bear it. My heart was going BADUM-BADUM-BADUM."

- Aizawl captain Alfred Jaryan, who missed the match through suspension, describes his emotions.

Vijender Singh beats China's Zulpikar Maimatiali

The backdrop

Vijender Singh's choice of opponent for his ninth professional bout - China's Zulpikar Maimaitiali - appeared to be an inspired choice by his matchmakers. There was tension between the two countries over the disputed region of Doklam and Vijender had indulged in a bit of trash talk, indicating Maimaitiali wouldn't last too long in the ring as he was a 'Chinese product'.

The moment

Maimaitiali gave a far better account of himself, with the Indian taking a close decision. The victory would allow Vijender to add the Chinese boxer's WBO Oriental supermiddleweight title to his own WBO Asia-Pacific supermiddleweight title. The Indian, though, would offer the belt back in the interest of peace between the two countries.

In their own words

"I don't want this title. I will give it back to Zulpikar. I don't want tension on the border. It's a message of peace. That's important."

- Vijender after beating Maimaitiali

Ramkumar Ramanathan beats Dominic Thiem in Antalya

The game

Ramkumar Ramanathan vs Dominic Thiem, pre-quarters, Antalya Open, Turkey, June 27

How it unfolded

It was a match few expected Ramkumar to win. But for someone who has a way with surprises, having beaten then India no. one Somdev Devvarman as a 19 year-old on his ATP tour debut, the Chennai boy didn't disappoint. Coming through qualifying, Ramkumar dominated the French Open semifinalist & world no. eight Thiem, placed 214 places above him, with some excellent service games in the first set and though he squandered three break points in the second, he broke the top seed in the fifth game to sail to a straight-sets win.

It was also the first time since Leander Paes' 1998 win over Pete Sampras in New Haven that an Indian singles player had beaten a top-10 ranked player.

In their own words

"Federer has always been an idol and I watched a couple of his matches against Thiem just before this. It gave me a few ideas on how to play Thiem and I tried some of them on court and got a few points."

- Ramkumar reflecting on what helped him pull off the biggest win of his career