Picture this scene.
Team India is up against Sri Lanka in the World Cup finals. It’s the final over with a few runs to go. The batsmen step up - It’s none other than Captain Cool himself. He looks towards the bright lights, the over-pouring stands, the scores of fans chanting his name. He looks to the bowler, a fierce rival with eyes on the wicket. He looks at his off-strike batsman: a younger teammate with eyes full of hope and prayer. The bowler starts his run-up, the deafening roar of the crowd now changes to a suspenseful silence. The bowler bowls, the batsman lifts up his arms and drives the shot with a thunderous strike straight past the stands for a six. The crowd erupts in a sea of jubilation and chaos. India wins the World Cup!
If you could feel even the slightest bit of elation from reading that excerpt, imagine what it would have felt like to be an Indian cricket fan on that fateful day in Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai.
Cricket in India is not just a sport, it’s a heartfelt, universal emotion. It’s a religion followed by some of the most hardcore worshippers you’ll ever see. We don’t just play or watch cricket, we live and breathe it. The undying passion of the game exudes from our very childhood, right up until old age. Cricket is a game that ties our society together in the most unexpected yet relatable way possible. Every Indian can agree that cricket is an incredibly important part of our daily lives, even if you’re not a die-hard fan.
Anywhere you go in India, you can’t be not exposed to cricket. Be it in the form of billboards and posters of the local IPL team, constant broadcasts of the latest games, advertisements from the players themselves, to even the neighbourhood kids having a game in an open field. Cricket is something that runs in our DNA and goes on to define who we are as a populace.
This sensational game started gaining major popularity in the 1980s, with colour televisions and broadcasts first coming to urban Indian homes in that decade. The legendary moment when Kapil Dev drove India to a historic 1983 World Cup triumph in Lords - there wasn’t a single Indian soul who wasn’t out on the streets celebrating the victory, waving flags, chanting “India, India!” at the top of their lungs. Ever since then, cricket has become a defining sport of the nation.
Team India is now a nigh-unstoppable force in the cricketing world, filled with some of the best talent the game has to offer. For example, current players like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, and of course MS Dhoni, command the front lines, who are arguably some of the finest players to grace the game. India has also historically had some incredible talent to boast about. Every Indian, home and abroad, knows the all-time legend Sachin Tendulkar before, a Master Blaster who is also a global ambassador of the sport.
With formats like IPL and T20, cricket is experiencing a surge in popularity, the likes of which we have never seen before in the sport. The Indian Premier League may have India in its name, but not surprisingly attracts the attention of all other cricketing nations in the world. Every player wants to be a part of it and play for their favourite team with billions of fans rooting for their local teams, it’s not hard to understand why.
All in all, cricket will always be a part of the lifeblood of every Indian citizen, no matter who they are, where they come from, what they know, or what their occupation is. A game that unites a nation of so many different cultures, races, ethnicities, religions, and languages surely is the greatest game out there.