Cricket quickly became one of the most prominent sports in India up to this moment. It has become a prime driver of entertainment television in the country, quickly becoming a trending topic in the country in the blink of an eye.

In 2002, the ICC Champions Trophy was held in Colombo. Since then, the sport was hardly ever covered by non-news and non-sports channels in India. At first, it wasn’t all entertainment as it had a big league that had its own specific sphere where only few people really put interest into.

Indian cricket had a few blunders before it rose to popularity in the entertainment industry. One of these was the attempt to promote cricket back in September 2002 with Ruby Bhatia as the anchor. That, however, ended in a failure.

India didn’t quit and kept trying over and over again. India’s entry in the 2003 World Cup was the biggest surprise that sparked growth in cricket’s popularity in the country. It was a success that the sport needed after a lot of blunders.

Cricket is not the national sport in India. But people love it more than their national sport, and it is even more popular. The sport has grown so much in the country that people are playing it everywhere regardless of the space and the equipment available.

The sport has been a major influence over the lives of the people. There’s no denying that cricket is like a common religion for Indians that unites them. Most kids grew up playing cricket, and each cricketing legend has been a big role model.

Indian cricket grew larger as the sports fan base was launched. Followed by the introduction of the Indian Premier League, the sport was much more loved in the country. All of the best cricket players gather together just to play in this event. They all go crazy for the love of the sport.

India’s popularity in today’s cricket has grown so much that the fans in India are always waiting for every single game that Team India plays in. Most fans enjoy the intense games that the team played in, and remained loyal to the end of disappointing matches that the team lost.

The success in the 2003 World Cup showed a growth of 24%, as the channel Set Max showed. For the first time in its history, they ended as the top channel for the week of February 15, 2003 with a share of 16.8%.

Kolkata returned a high-average rating of 10.3% for all seven World Cup matches played during that week. Mumbai, Delhi, and Chennai matches all had a near 10 rating, which was very impressive for most. 

People bother to question the mix between entertainment and cricket itself. There are doubts if the sport would just simply fade away should the country’s team fail to continue winning. Most have actually led to think that the sport will simply be out as India has more things to focus on.

Indian cricket has been completely lopsided, every people know the sport and is a part of their daily lives. The sport is a vital part of the culture of the country. Some even think cricket was invented in the country back in 1864, where the first cricket match was played.

Not many records exist, but history proves that India has been a major factor in the sport, becoming a major member of the ‘elite club’ in 1932. Since then, cricket has been loved by many people as the sport went on carrying the country’s name overseas.

Intense games put the fans on their feet, getting the excitement running as fun matches shake stadiums with massive roars. The recent wins by the Men in Blue in international cricket made it even more popular in the country. The sport has shown no signs of decline over the years.

The recent pink-ball Test was an effort to put Test cricket back in the mix of the sport’s popularity. Cricket boards around the world want to put back the spectators in the stands once more. The format isn’t really that popular especially with the Indians.

India cricket’s skipper Virat Kohli says that pink ball Test is not the only way that could be used to restore Tests. He believes that playing the game for the sake of entertainment would impact results that could have gone the other way around.

‘This should not become only way how Test is played, then you miss out on the nervousness of the first morning session. You can bring excitement into Test cricket but you can’t purely play Test cricket based on entertainment’, said the Indian skipper. ‘The entertainment of Test cricket lies in a batsman trying to survive a session or a bowler trying to set up a batsman’.

Cricket entertainment hasn’t always been easy for the people that really play the game. It sometimes separate common people from true fans of the game. True fans will watch games no matter what compared to people who don’t really understand the game.

‘If people don’t respond to that, it’s too bad. If someone gets excitement from watching that battle, those are the ones who should come and watch Test cricket as they understand what is going on’, said Kohli on the eve of the team’s recent maiden pink ball Test against Bangladesh.

The Indian skipper knows that true fans to the sport will stick to the Test calendar and plan in advance for the red-ball cricket. He does agree with the fact that the pink ball match is a ‘landmark occasion’ for India’s cricket.

‘There is a Test calendar, you can plan in advance like you plan anything in life. This (pink ball Test) can be a one-off thing. It is a great occasion. It is exciting even if you are bowling, 80K people will cheer you from the mark’, he said.

That has put almost 400 million people to watch the Indian cricket team on television every time the team plays a big match against the big cricket teams in the world. It may not be as popular as basketball, soccer, or any other sport that has big sporting leagues, but cricket is a monster sport in India.

The sudden rise of great cricket players really helped the popularity of the sport in the country. If it wasn’t for greatness by cricket players like the legendary Sachar Tendulkar, then the sport would never be as popular as it is right now.

Sure, cricket has clearly dominated India as its most popular sport for decades. It has transcended all levels of society in India. Fans will always get goosebumps whenever they’re in a cricket game that is on Indian soil.

Eden Gardens is one of the most famous cricket venues in the world. Located at Kolkata, it has played host to a lot of intense cricket matches for Team India. The Eden Gardens will take most cricketers to a trip down memory lane with all the big matches that saw action in the stadium.

Sunil Gavaskar, however, feels that cricket for India isn’t just a game but is indeed a form of entertainment for today’s generation. The former India skipper and one of the most popular batting legends believes that cricket is something that will be seen in the future in every nook or corner of the world.

‘Every generation leaves a legacy behind. The present generation grew up with television’, said Gavaskar in an interview. ‘They know cricket is not only a game now but also entertainment. Entertainment not only in the sense of batting and bowling but also with their actions’. 

Gavaskar also felt that the use of television has also led to players being a bit of a showoff in the field. They tend to be showy whenever they have the chance as game coverages highlight big plays in the game.

‘Today, you see, even if there’s an easy catch, fielder dives, just because of television’, he continued. Today even if there is no chance of run out, you throw the ball & that’s a waste of energy. This throw, by becoming overthrow, sometimes may lead to your loss in the match’.

Cricket players in India have a lot of workload to carry these days. Playing in local and international games in just a week’s stretch seem to be normal now. Gavaskar praised the current physique and fitness levels of players today.

‘However, I have no issues with anything else they do, but I do have a problem with their throw. The present generation’s fitness and approach is amazing’, said Gavaskar.  ‘We really enjoy it. This generation has gives us lot of joy with cricket’.

The question, however, still looms if Indian cricket is really a sport, or just another form of entertainment. Certain online discussions have led to some people concluding that cricket is nothing more than entertainment, while there are some who think the other way around.

Cricket in the country still remains a sport, but it has gone on to become a big industry. IPL was just the Indian variant for today’s NBA or the English Premier League that has been very popular since then.

Amazing finishes in the game has made the sport more popular in the country. The game is played across multiple countries in Asia, and is widely popular in most countries in the continent. That was proven by Google’s ‘Year in Search’ for 2019 in India.

The top 10 overall list of trending search terms this year saw the country’s excitement over big events such as the Cricket World Cup, Lok Sabha elections, followed by the launch of Chandrayaan 2. A lot of movies also made the list, such as Kabir Singh, Gully Boy, Mission Mangal, Joker, and blockbuster Marvel films in Avengers: Endgame and Captain Marvel.

The fact that cricket in India even had more searches than any politics-related stuff only means that the country’s eternal love for the sport does not stop and instead continues to grow more and more every single day.

Even so, the most searched personalities results showed various names of cricketers playing either in the Indian Premier League or international cricket. Whatever the case may be, it only proves us that cricket is a form of entertainment in India.

Cricket betting is even a larger part of the entertainment for the sport. It gained traction as soon as the sport became popular. Cricket betting remains at large as fans actually enjoy the game more. It has helped the sport rise into prominence.

The rise of world-class batsmen over the years that caught the eyes of the masses made the sport more popular. The fact that even non-players are amazed and enchanted by cricketers shows a lot of promise for a sport that isn’t at the same level with the big sporting leagues in the world.

With the emergence of the Indian Premier League, that only added a popularity boost for the sport in the country. It has only made the Indian fans more active in engaging with the sport on most social media platforms. 

The strong overseas flavour in the IPL does not remove the support of the Indian fans. Big crowds in every single game show that the fans continue to love the game more and more. Crowds are usually roaring in games and that has kept the IPL going for some time now.

The noise level in some games rises further whenever a match reaches an epic conclusion. Quality cricket games are usually the best things that made Indian fans go crazy as their favourite teams clash on the field while aiming to come up with a hard-fought victory.

Even young people are inspired to try and play cricket for their nation. Recent victories by the Men in Blue in big tournaments are just important factors to the prominence of cricket in the country. It remains to be India’s number one sport up to this moment, and there might be no other sport that can usurp cricket’s place in India.

The power and impact that the sport had to the people shows that the sport knows no boundaries, no limits. Cricket is a sport that unites millions into one solid family. That was proven whenever Team India would play against rivals at home ground.

The Indian team shares a long-running rivalry with the Pakistani team. Every match is sold out and television broadcasts are getting high ratings for the match. Every match between the two teams are anticipated by every single cricket fan, showing how the sport has been embraced so much.

February 1999 had the highest record for a single cricket match in the country. The five-day Test that saw India and Pakistan putting up an intense battle had an audience record of 465,000 fans gathering at the Eden Gardens. 2017 IPL matches averaged 26,528 fans coming to every single match as well. That was a very big margin for a cricket match that mattered so much for Indian fans.

2023 will probably see another record-breaking attendance by Indians as the 2023 Cricket World Cup will be hosted in the country. The tournament is set on February 9, 2023, in a One-Day International format.

It would definitely be safe to conclude that cricket is indeed the most popular sport in India. It is also safe to say that the sport will never be replaced by another sport for the years to come. Indians love cricket so much, and it might well be considered as one of the highest forms of entertainment in the country.