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A cricket rivalry evolves: How Indian followers got here to like English gamers | ICC Cricket World Cup Information

Mumbai, India – The picture of former India captain Sourav Ganguly swinging his jersey in jubilation on the Lord’s Cricket Stadium’s balcony is deeply etched in each Indian cricket fan’s reminiscence.

It was July 13, 2002. India had defeated England by two wickets in a tightly contested ultimate of the NatWest sequence as Ganguly’s facet chased a mighty goal of 326 within the ultimate over.

The match, rated as one of many biggest in one-day cricket, was a titanic conflict between the golden age of Indian cricket – that includes Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and Anil Kumble – and an England crew boasting high gamers resembling Nasser Hussain, Marcus Trescothick and Andrew Flintoff.

For India, the victory was a candy revenge after England had held them to a 3-3 ODI sequence draw at house earlier that 12 months.

After Zaheer Khan hit the successful runs, Ganguly swung his India jersey, baring his torso as he hurled invective, delivering a tit-for-tat after Flintoff celebrated topless on the Wankhede Stadium throughout England’s tour of India.

India and England have performed greater than 100 worldwide ODI matches because the Seventies and tempers have flared throughout these face-offs. There have been incidents of aggression, moments of fine banter and a robust feeling of competitiveness between the gamers.

However, as India and England put together to face off on the Cricket World Cup on Sunday, Indian followers really feel that their so-called rivalry has toned down over the previous couple of years with gamers from each international locations competing collectively in franchise leagues, together with the Twenty20 Indian Premier League.

“For certain the rivalry between India and England has diminished,” Chirag Narasimiah, a business and company lawyer from Bengaluru, informed Al Jazeera. “Aggression between groups has calmed normally throughout worldwide cricket due to the IPL and different leagues.”

India's Sourav Ganguly celebrates with the Natwest Trophy
Ganguly celebrates with the Natwest Trophy in July 2002 [Jason O’ Brien/Action Images via Reuters]

English gamers have performed within the IPL since its inception in 2008 and plenty of of them have fashioned a strong fan base within the cricket-loving nation.

England’s take a look at captain and all-rounder Ben Stokes, who has performed for IPL groups Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Tremendous Kings, is a fan favorite amongst Indians.

Throughout England’s World Cup match in opposition to South Africa in Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium final weekend, Indian followers had been rooting for him each time he bought maintain of the ball whereas fielding and chanted his title when he got here on to bat within the second innings.

Jos Buttler and Joe Root, who each performed for Rajasthan Royals within the 2023 IPL season, additionally obtained an identical reception from the Mumbai crowd at the same time as England suffered an enormous defeat.

“IPL has allowed followers to be uncovered to a variety of gamers from completely different international locations,” stated Ali Taabish Nomani, an insurance coverage guide from Lucknow.

“Quite a lot of followers are educated in our cricket-loving nation so as soon as they see a participant doing effectively, they’ll help him regardless of the nation he’s from. Be it even Ben Stokes of England.”

Narasimiah, who additionally advises on sports activities regulation issues, stated that the IPL works as a fantastic software to bridge the hole between Indian followers and abroad gamers.

“The league has opened up the sport to a variety of informal followers, who don’t actually perceive or delve deep into rivalries. These followers are pleased to simply watch the sport and luxuriate in whoever is taking part in effectively,” he stated.

“I believe this has elevated over time and led to fewer conversations the place you’d focus on if a participant is from England or Australia.

“Additionally, England gamers have toured India and been a part of the IPL for therefore a few years that nothing is new for them. They’re additionally making an effort to assimilate.”


For Dion George, a software program developer from Mumbai, supporting Chennai Tremendous Kings made him “emotionally invested” in England batter Sam Curran’s profession.

Curran performed for the Chennai-based IPL franchise within the 2020-21 IPL season earlier than becoming a member of Punjab Kings this 12 months. However that didn’t have an effect on George’s help for the Englishman.

“Since I adopted him for therefore lengthy due to my allegiance with Chennai, I’m so used to supporting him. I nonetheless get pleased once I see him do effectively for Punjab and even England,” stated George.

Aside from Curran, George can be an enormous supporter of Buttler and included the England skipper in his fantasy gaming crew throughout IPL a few seasons in the past.

“Whereas taking part in fantasy video games, you subconsciously align your self with wanting these gamers to do effectively, and that stays for a very long time, too. After I had Buttler in my fantasy crew, I’d look ahead to him scoring effectively even in worldwide Check cricket and the World Cups,” George, 26, stated.

“Once I attended England vs South Africa, I used to be most upset over seeing him get out.”


Colonial historical past

Whereas India and England have been rivals on the cricket subject, the international locations additionally share an extended historical past, with the British ruling over the Indian subcontinent from 1858 to 1947.

Cricket, which originated in England, was launched to the Indian subcontinent by sailors and merchants of the English East India Firm within the seventeenth and 18th centuries and it turned a extremely widespread sport amongst Indians when India defeated their former colonisers England on their very own turf in 1971 – successful a three-test sequence 1-0.

In 1983, India received the World Cup for the primary time, lifting the trophy on the Lord’s Cricket Floor in London, as soon as known as the “cathedral of cricket”.

Then in 2011, India received their second world title, whereas England received the World Cup for the primary time in 2019, ending their agonising 44-year wait to be world champions of the game they invented.

Britain’s colonial historical past is just not forgotten, however Indian followers say it doesn’t have an effect on them when watching an India vs England cricket match.

“I don’t take into consideration British colonialism as a result of what has occurred is previously now and we should always be taught from historical past,” stated Nomani, who will attend India v England in Lucknow on Sunday.

“I’ve by no means checked out it that approach, for me it’s simply two groups from two international locations taking part in a recreation of cricket.”

Narasimiah stated India’s cricketing achievements have confirmed they’re higher than their former colonisers.

“I don’t suppose the colonial historical past issues a lot for at present’s followers, particularly within the age group of 20-30s. It’s as a result of India has type of ‘been there finished that’ by successful the World Cup earlier than England,” he stated.

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England’s poor kind

England head into Sunday’s match in opposition to table-toppers India with 4 defeats in 5 matches.

Mathematically, England usually are not but out of the race for the semifinals, however their hopes are hanging by a thread because the crew sits second backside, above the Netherlands on internet run charge.

Dismal batting has let England down on a number of events throughout their World Cup title defence, whereas their bowlers have additionally not stepped up.

Nonetheless, India fan Nomani expects Sunday’s conflict in Lucknow to be entertaining.

“I consider it will likely be a superb match as a result of the pitch has been utterly modified because the venue was awarded the World Cup. It might be a impartial venue for each groups … additionally with England coming into the sport with 4 losses, they might be aggressive and India could be eased out as they’ve received all 5 matches,” the 30-year-old stated.

“I’d say it will likely be India’s match to lose, however it will likely be an aggressive and aggressive recreation.”



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