Still mesmerizing

Lionel Messi. Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Upswing downhill

Shiva Kesavan.Hindustan Times

Double delight

Virender Sehwag. Hindustan Times

Golf’s new cub

Rory Mcilroy. David Cannon/Getty Images

Cup encore

Sachin Tendulkar. Hamish Blair/Getty Images

The right formula

Sebastian Vettel. Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Beginning of the end?

Crying shame: England fans taking a dig at Australia’s Ricky Ponting. Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Djoker’s last laugh

Novak Djokovic. Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

A new ringmaster

Vikas Krishan. Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Farewell blues

Finally, a requiem for the great athletes who died this year: Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, 70, better known by the epithet “Tiger", who became the Indian cricket team’s captain at 21, and led them to their first overseas victory (1968, against New Zealand); “Smokin"Joe Frazier, 67, former heavyweight champion of the world, whose rivalry with Muhammad Ali lit up rings for over a decade with such legendary bouts as the “Fight of the Century" and the “Thrilla in Manila"; Italian MotoGP racer Marco Simoncelli, 24, and British racing driver Dan Wheldon, 33, both tragically died in two separate crashes while racing; Sócrates, 57, one of the greatest footballers to come out of Brazil, and known as much for his flair on the field as for his political and social activism off it; and Peter Roebuck, 55, one of cricket’s most insightful and hard-hitting writers, who committed suicide under mysterious circumstances.