Kolkata: Probably one of the greatest understatements of all time would be to say that India loves cricket. It is endlessly fascinating to see how a sport that was invented by the British some centuries ago has grown to become something of a superglue that binds an entire country of over a billion people together in a manner that is unseen in any other country.
A great many things have been said and written about this great sport and its special place in the lives, culture as well as identity of Indians. Hockey, as we all know, is India’s national sport, but there’s no doubt at all that it is indeed cricket that is the most loved sport in the country. And if you are an Indian or have been living here for a significant period of time, it is quite likely that you are a cricket lover yourself, or have a sizable number of cricket fans in your social circle.
For the vast majority of cricket fans in India, cricket is not regarded as just a sport, but as a religion in itself. And if cricket is their religion, cricketers are hailed as heroes and icons of the sport who are duly idolised for their spectacular performances on the pitch. They are nothing short of legends – legends who make India proud on the global stage, bringing home not just trophies but immense glory and honour.
Cricket is as versatile a sport as it is easy to play. One of the most interesting byproducts of the cricket craze India is a version of the sport called ‘gully cricket’. Also known as street cricket or backyard cricket, this is a form of cricket that has grown to become a style of play on its own. This is due to the fact that cricket can be played just about anywhere, even in the congested and narrow streets and bylanes of Indian cities. Enthusiasts of the sport play cricket with just as much gusto on the streets as they do in stadiums and other sporting locations.
The popularity of cricket in India is not a new phenomenon. The rise in popularity of the sport in the country can be attributed to a variety of factors, such as:
- Ease of play
- Versatility of the sport
- Robust infrastructure for training and practice
- Strong governing organisation
Aside from these factors, India has produced numerous star players whose performances in tournaments over their careers have made them household names in India, such as Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and several others. They have become inspirations for entire generations of Indian cricket fans.
One of the most noticeable developments that has arisen out of India’s cricket craze is the growth of fantasy cricket. Fantasy cricket, as its name suggests, is a form of cricket that belongs to the genre of gaming known as fantasy sports. In recent years, there has been a boom in fantasy sports in India, and it is not surprising that fantasy cricket clearly dominates the Indian fantasy sports market. It is estimated that more than 100 million people across India play fantasy cricket. And this figure is only set to grow.
India is a technology hub today. This has been made possible due to the rapid and deep penetration of internet services in even the most remote parts of the country, helping to bring large sections of the population into the technology mainstream. Nowadays, there are a number of websites and apps that are dedicated entirely to cricket and it is only too common to see people in India glued to their mobile phones, scrolling through cricket updates and reading every latest news update and development from the world of cricket. The tech boom has only served to make cricket more popular among the masses, with fantasy cricket only augmenting it.
But what is it about fantasy cricket that makes it so popular?
For starters, its ease of play. To begin playing this form of the game, you need to first download an app, such as the MPL fantasy cricket app. Once you have installed the app, you need to select an upcoming cricket match and create your very own virtual team comprising 11 real world cricketers for it. You will then earn points based on how these players perform on the day of the actual cricket game.
In short, fantasy cricket is an online virtual version of cricket that can be played from the comfort of one’s home. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has only helped to accelerate its growth in India as a large number of people have had to remain indoors and outdoor activities still remain largely halted.
Fantasy cricket enjoys a tremendous degree of engagement from fans and enthusiasts alike as it provides a platform for people to put their cricket knowledge to the test. Additionally, the popularity of fantasy cricket competitions has also led to the creation of avenues for users to earn money.
In India, a large number of people have at some point or the other harboured ambitions of becoming a cricketer themselves and playing alongside the legends they have idolised in their youth. But as we all know, not everyone can make a career in cricket. Fantasy cricket provides them with an opportunity to feel personally involved in a match as fantasy cricket is premised on optimal team selection. This format of gameplay has contributed to bringing passive cricket audiences into the world of fantasy cricket.
Users get to create their own cricket teams, and the proper selection of a team, based on research and updated information as well as thorough cricket knowledge make fantasy cricket a game of skill. The ability of users to create and modify their teams as they wish gives them a greater feeling of autonomy and control, and makes them feel more emotionally invested in an ongoing match. Users also put in great efforts in the selection of their captain and vice captain as they respectively earn 2 times and 1.5 times the points that normal cricketers do in fantasy cricket.
Yet another factor that has influenced the growth of fantasy cricket in India is the recent growth in the number of T20 cricket tournaments, such as the Indian Premier League and other professional leagues, as is observed in this article from The Economic Times. These have increased the total number of cricket matches in the sporting calendar as international cricket matches are subject to bilateral ties and limited to specific international competitions. More matches being played translate to more available matches on fantasy cricket apps for users to play.
In conclusion, fantasy cricket as a form of gaming is only set to grow and thrive in the coming years. Given the abundance of fantasy cricket apps today, with more being released on Google’s Playstore and Apple’s App Store, it is a clear indication that the popularity of this genre of cricket is skyrocketing.