Sports

Inside India's Cricket Obsession

Religion is said to be the opium of the masses. In India, cricket gives it a run for its money. With the country set to play its opening game against New Zealand at the sixth ICC World Twenty20, Bloomberg takes a look at India's love affair with the gentleman's game.  Photographs by Prashanth Vishwanathan and Dhiraj Singh for Bloomberg.

  1. 1

    A young player waits to bat during a match at Azad Maidan sports ground in Mumbai.

    India tops the ICC World Twenty20 rankings table and started the tournament as favorite. 

    Photographer: Dhiraj Singh

  2. 2

    Weighing the inner core and casings of a cricket ball at a Stanford Cricket Industries factory in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh. 

    India's T20 team is led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni. On March 6, they were crowned Asia T20 champions.  

    Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan

  3. 3

    Hand-made balls in Meerut.

    Under Dhoni's leadership India won the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007. Subsequent winners were Pakistan (2009), England (2010), West Indies (2012) and Sri Lanka (2014).

    Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan

  4. 4

    Hand planing the blade of a bat at a Stanford Cricket Industries factory.

    Initially a game of cricket was played over a period of up to five days. The first official One Day International (ODI) match was held in 1971, when Australia and England battled it out in Melbourne. During a ODI each team bats one innings, facing a set number of overs - typically 50. An over is a set of six balls delivered in succession by a single bowler.

     

    Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan

  5. 5

    Cricket gloves being made at a Stanford Cricket Industries factory.

    The Twenty20 is an even shorter version of the game. Each team bats 20 overs and the entire match is over in around three hours. The first official T20 matches were played on June 13, 2003, between the English counties in the Twenty20 Cup.

    Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan

  6. 6

    No shortage of willow - typically the wood of choice for cricket bats - at a sports store in Mumbai.

    Part of the appeal of T20 lies in its high-scoring games, thanks to batsmen being forced to take greater risks with more daring shots.

     

    Photographer: Dhiraj Singh

  7. 7

    A spectator naps at the Bombay Gymkhana in Mumbai.

    The short format has proved popular with spectators who don’t have the time to watch five-day test matches or one-day face-offs that typically take around six hours, excluding lunch and refreshments.

    Photographer: Dhiraj Singh

  8. 8

    Between the wickets.

    This year's World Cup precedes the Indian Premier League (IPL), where teams from eight Indian locations compete in the T20 format of the game. 

    Photographer: Dhiraj Singh

  9. 9

    Winners and losers at Azad Maidan.

    IPL games will take place between April 9 and May 29. The title sponsor is the Chinese smartphone maker Vivo, which sells phones at some 10,000 outlets across India.

    Photographer: Dhiraj Singh

  10. 10

    Keeping score.

    Fueled by sponsorship, broadcast revenue and ticket sales, the IPL has become the world’s richest cricket tournament.

    Photographer: Dhiraj Singh

  11. 11

    A hard-earned break.

    The IPL started in 2008 when the Board of Control for Cricket in India auctioned team franchises to represent eight cities.

    Photographer: Dhiraj Singh

  12. 12

    Watching and waiting.

    Of the 11 teams to have competed since the league's formation, five have won the title at least once. Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings have each taken the title twice, while Rajasthan Royals and Deccan Chargers have swiped one victory apiece.

    Photographer: Dhiraj Singh

  13. 13

    A cricketer's lunch.

    The teams are mostly owned by India's Industrial conglomerates and mega-rich. The current champions, the Mumbai Indians, are owned by India's richest man Mukesh Ambani, while Bollywood's biggest star Shahrukh Khan owns the Kolkata Knight Riders.

    Photographer: Dhiraj Singh

  14. 14

    Warming up.

    The tournament has been marred with allegations of match fixing and corruption, with local and foreign players alike appearing in court charged with offences.

    Photographer: Dhiraj Singh

  15. 15

    Protected.

    Last year, the Board of Control for Cricket in India suspended the Chennai Superkings and the Rajasthasn Royals for two seasons. They were replaced by the Rising Pune Supergiants and the Gujarat Lions.

    Photographer: Dhiraj Singh