Set for another rollercoaster ride

The cricket World Cup is the highlight of the sporting year but there is plenty of action in store in other sports as well. Here's the pick....

Set for another rollercoaster ride

Formula One
Lewis Hamilton (pictured below, right) dominated the 2014 Formula One season, even though the double points system meant he had to wait till the last stop to celebrate.

His duel with team-mate Nico Rosberg was the highlight of the season and the two will continue their rivalry with the new season kicking off at Melbourne on March 15.

Changes in teams will make sure there will be tremendous interest in the new season. Four-time World champion Sebastian Vettal has moved to Ferrari from Red Bull after a lacklustre season and the German will be looking to end the Italian giants wait for another title.

Fernando Alonso, who left Ferrari for McLaren at the end of the last season, will also eye another title after his stint with the Italians failed to fetch him any rewards and leaving him frustrated.

Australian GP Melbourne: March 15
Malaysian GP, KL: March 29
Chinese GP, Shanghai: April 12
Bahrain GP, Sakhir: April 19
Korean GP: May 3
Spanish GP, Barcelona: May 10
Monaco GP, Monte Carlo: May 24
Canadian GP, Montreal: June 7
GP of Austria, Spielberg: June 21
British GP, Silverstone: July 5
German GP: July 19
Hungary GP, Budapest: July 26
Belgian GP: August 23
Italian GP, Monza: Sept 6
Singapore GP Sept 20
Japanese GP, Suzuka: Sept 27
Russian GP, Sochi: Oct 11
United States GP, Austin: Oct 25
Mexico GP, Mexico City: Nov 1
Brazilian GP, Sao Paulo: Nov 15
Abu Dhabi GP, Yas Marina: Nov 29 Athletics  Usain Bolt  (pictured left) looks certain to be back where it all began for him at the World Championships at Beijing's Birds Nest, the venue for his stunning 100 and 200m victories in world record times at the 2008 Olympics.

Seven years on and the Jamaican sprinter, who will turn 29 the day before the championships begin on August 22, remains his sport's trump card as one of the few sportsmen or women to enjoy a truly global profile.

From the Indian point of view, the Asian Championships in Wuhan, China, is the main focus as they aim to strike gold.

Diamond League programme
May 15: Doha
May 17: Shanghai
May 29-30: Eugene, Oregon.
June 4: Rome
June 7: Birmingham.
June 11: Oslo
June 13: New York
July 4: Paris
July 9: Lausanne
July 17: Monaco
July 24-25: London
July 30: Stockholm 
Sept 3: Zurich
Sept 11: Brussels
Major championships
Asian Championships, Wuhan, China June 3 to 7
World Championships, Beijing
August 22 to 30
Wrestling World Championships, Las Vegas
September 7 to 12 Cricket Tens of millions of cricket obsessives will ensure plenty of eyeballs on the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in February-March.

Australia have won four of the 10 cricket World Cups and will be confident of a fifth title on home soil from Feb 14 to March 29, with reigning champions India and South Africa the most likely to stop them.

India, whose 2011 triumph helped bolster the 50-over game against the threat of obsolescence in the face of the growth of the Twenty20 game, will be looking to continue their good batting performances on the bouncy Australian tracks, even though they have struggled during the second innings in Test matches. South Africa and New Zealand should be strong opposition.

On the domestic front, IPL (April 8-May 24) will be the cynosure.

Major events
West Indies v England
April-May (Three Tests)
England v New Zealand, May-June
(two Tests, five ODIs and one-off T20I)
West Indies v Australia, June (two Tests)
The Ashes (England v Australia)
June-Sept (five Tests, one-off T20I, five ODIs)
South Africa v England
Dec 2015-Feb 2016 (four Tests, five ODIs, two T20Is)
International tournaments
Australia Tri Series, Jan 16-Feb 1
(Australia, England, India)
ICC Cricket World Cup, Aus/NZ
February 14-March 29  Tennis  Men’s tennis’ super three -- Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal renew their rivalry. Federer has won just one major title, his 17th, in the last four seasons while Nadal is battling back from injuries and illness. Djokovic will be the man to beat this year. In the women’s section, Serena Williams (pictured left) will be looking to dominate again.

Major events
Australian Open, Jan 19 to Feb 1
French Open, May 25 to June 7
Wimbledon, June 29 to July 12
 US Open, Aug 31 to Sept 13
Davis Cup
First round: March 6-8.
Quarterfinals July 17-19
Semifinals Sept 18-20.
Final Nov 27-29.  Football The burgeoning popularity of European club soccer shows no sign of abating but men's international football honours in 2015 will be confined to regional championships in Asia, Africa as well as South, Central and North America. The Copa America will have some of the biggest stars in action, including Lionel Messi and Neymar.

The finest female footballers from all seven continents will gather in Canada in June and July to contest the seventh women's World Cup with Germany and the United States the early favourites.  Swimming  The World swimming championships in the Russian city of Kazan will be without the biggest name in the sport after 18-times Olympic gold medallist Michael Phelps was kicked off the US team in the wake of a drink driving arrest. But there are many others waiting to grab the spotlight, including American Katie Ledecky (pictured above).

World championships
Kazan, July 24 to August 9  Badminton
From the Indian perspective, the progress of Saina Nehwal, P V Sindhu and K Srikanth will be keenly watched in the season, with the World Championships scheduled in Jakarta. The event will be sandwiched by a clutch of Super Series Premier events.

World Championships: Jakarta
August 10 to 16
Superseries Premier events
All England, Birmingham, March 3-8
Malaysia Open, KL, March 31-Apr 5
Indonesia Open, Jakarta, June 2-7
Denmark Open, Odense, Oct 13-18
China Open, Fujian, Nov 10-15

Rory McIlroy (pictured above) is the man in form but as ever, there will be much attention on Tiger Woods as he tries to bounce back from an injury hit 2014. Woods won the last of his 14 major titles in 2008 and McIlroy could go some way to replacing him as the face of golf if he can become the sixth player to win a career grand slam at the US Masters in April.

Major events
US Masters, Augusta, April 9-12.
US Open, Chambers Bay, Washington, June 18-21
The Open Championship, St Andrew's
July 16 to 19
PGA Championships, Whistling Straits, Wisconsin Aug 13-16

Other events
European Games, Baku, Azerbaijan
June 12 to 28.
CYCLING: Tour de France
July 4 to 26

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