Cricket is far and away the biggest and most beloved sport in India, with millions every year tuning in on TV, turning up to local matches or playing it themselves.
For the Indian people, cricket is not only a favoured pastime but is an important part of the culture and is a major factor in bringing together communities, both international and ones within the borders.
With modern TV coverage, expanding leagues and Inplay Cricket betting, the history of cricket within India is worth taking a look at just to see how far the game has come.
Arrival and development
Cricket, being an invention of the English from around the 16th century, was naturally introduced to India as they were a big part of the British Empire until 1947 after World War II.
Though there is no concrete date as to when India took to the sport, the first recorded cricket match within the country was in 1721 when a group of English sailors belonging to the East India Trading Company played against each other in Kutch, Western India.
Though in the years after there was no doubt cricket was being played all over the nation, the first official team wasn’t formed until 1848, when the Parsi community in Bombay (now Mumbai) created the Oriental Cricket Club (OCC).
The OCC was eventually invited to play in Europe, after which new teams began to emerge in India. That included the likes of Calcutta (now Kolkata), showing India’s commitment to cricket on the world stage.
After being granted their test match status in 1932, where they played the England international team at Lord’s in London, India began expanding its own competitions to incorporate more teams and players.
After impressive Test match attendances against Pakistan and New Zealand, Indian princes came together to create the Ranji trophy in 1935.
The trophy was named after Sir Ranjitsinhji, prince of Nawanagar, who, although he played for England, was considered one of the finest batsmen in the world at the time and was made an icon by his home country.
Along with the Ranji Trophy, the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) also created the Irani trophy, a sort of sequel to the Ranji trophy, which would be played between the winner of that and the rest of India.
Becoming a force
India hosted its first official Test series in 1932 but would not find success on the international stage until 1952, where the Indian national team beat England on home soil in a test match.
They would go on to win their first whole Test series later that year against Pakistan. As a result of this, India would slowly become a formidable foe when playing a team on their own ground – producing high-quality players and winning multiple Test series across the 60s and 70s.
With the introduction of One Day Internationals, India had to adjust their typically defensive-style tactics to outwardly attacking ones. This proved a stroke of huge luck for the country too, as in 1983 they went on to defeat the favourites West Indies in the third official ICC Cricket World Cup.
Throughout the late 20th century and into the 21st, India would produce many iconic players that are considered some of the best in the sport’s history, including Sachin Tendulkar and Kapil Dev.
Indian Premier League
In 2008, the BCCI capitalised on the growing popularity of the recently introduced Twenty20 format by creating India’s very own cricket premier league.
The IPL, which has happened yearly since its arrival, runs from March or April until May and features eight teams that play each other in a league format to decide who goes through to playoffs and then the final.
Though it’s estimated the tournament’s creation cost around $400 million, its focus on franchises and its ability to draw in the best players the sport has to offer has seen its worth grow to billions in recent years.
Today, the IPL is watched all over the world and is widely regarded as the best-quality domestic league that cricket has to offer. Its standing is a credit to Indian cricket and shows just how much the country loves and values the sport, with further developments planned for the future.