June 13, 2024

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Modi and India’s cricket supremacy

2 min read

In recent years, as Hindu nationalists have risen to power in Indian politics, the idea that the country itself is destined to be the vishwaguru, teacher to the world, has gathered currency. Ideologues seek to convince us that the contributions of ancient Hindus in astronomy, yoga, philosophy and mathematics (we invented the zero, don’t forget) predestine India for global leadership. It is even being said that it was not Greece, but India, that was the “mother of democracy”. The recent surge in economic growth is seen as legitimising our status as the guru-to-the-world.

The evidence for these claims of historical pre-eminence is of uneven and unreliable quality. And whether, in the years to come, India will indeed surpass China and the US as an economic superpower is very much open to question. That said, the one area in which India does indeed lead the world is with regard to its proficiency in and passion for the game of cricket. 

My country’s acknowledged leadership here is currently being showcased by its hosting of the Cricket World Cup. Now entering its concluding stages ahead of the final on Sunday November 19, the six-week tournament has featured 10 teams from four continents participating in matches held in cities across this vast country. India is now the epicentre of world cricket, having comprehensively displaced the previous claimants to that title, England and Australia.

India’s Virat Kohli takes to the field before the World Cup match between India and Pakistan at Narendra Modi Stadium, October 14

The first Indians to take to cricket were the Parsis of Mumbai, a modernising community who quickly embraced western music, science and art, as well as western forms of sporting entertainment. A cricket club they established in 1850, the Young Zoroastrians, is still in existence. The game spread to other communities and cities, and by the first half of the 20th century had become the country’s best-loved sport. Xenophobic nationalists demanded…

2023-11-11 00:00:14

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