It's often said that cricket is a religion in India, and it's players are revered as gods by the land of a billion people. The likes of Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, and others have shaped the cricket landscape in the country and inspired millions with their jaw-dropping performances.
Considering that the sport, in some form or the other, is played in pretty much every nook and cranny of the country - by kids, youngsters, and adults alike - it is fair to say that there is no shortage of talent in cricket. In fact, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that you can find the next generation of superstars to join the Men in Blue without as much as batting an eye.
This is also one of the reasons why Indians have dominated the sport for the better part of the last decade and are well on their way to continue this rule. In other words, India’s National Cricket Team is establishing itself as an unstoppable force that can still get way better.
India’s Recent Exploits Say it All
Given that 2021 is a World Cup year, the Indian team has left no stone unturned in their preparations and getting their affairs in order.
Barring a handful of instances where India have had to swallow the bitter pill of defeat, they have pretty much dismantled every opponent they met this season - be it in the Test, T20I, or ODI format.
Case in point, at the start of the year, they conquered Australia by handing the hosts a 2-1 Test Series defeat. They hosted England in India a few weeks later and crushed the visitors with a resounding 3-1 win in the same format.
As for the one-day internationals, the action has been relatively limited in 2021, but whatever teams they played - England and Sri Lanka - India won comfortably.
And when we look at the T20I performance, the results are even more impressive. India have lost just two of their last 10 Twenty-20 international series - their most recent defeat was to Sri Lanka in July which came at the expense of several first-team players being hit by the coronavirus and its protocols. Oh, it is also worth mentioning that India sent their ‘B-Team’ to Sri Lanka as the first-choice players were travelling to England for the five-match bilateral Test series (the visitors took a 2-1 lead before the final Test game was called off).
Needless to say, India will head into the T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates as heavy favourites. These results also explain why India is ranked at 2nd place in the ICC Men’s Rankings for T20I and Test formats.
At the same time, India’s absolute superiority in cricket may not necessarily reflect in betting odds. For instance, Pure Win Sports Betting had pegged them at 2.30 to beat England in the fourth Test match - any real cricket fan would tell you that those odds were much higher for a team like India, especially when you consider the quality of their players and their impeccable form. Of course, this translates into a high-value bet where you stand to make more profits than you ideally should for veteran bettors.
IPL, Domestic Tournaments Serve as Training Grounds
The fact that cricket is developed to a grassroots level in India is one of the many reasons why outstanding talent is relatively easy to identify and develop by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
There are many domestic cricket tournaments (comprising First-Class and List A formats) in India where budding cricketers make their case. The most popular ones are Ranji Trophy, Vijay Hazare Trophy, Duleep Trophy, and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
The likes of Axar Patel, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, and several others got their start in these tournaments by playing for their respective states. Once they were in the spotlight and having built some pedigree, they were picked up by the Indian Premier League franchises, and that’s where things got real.
The current talent pool of India’s National Cricket Team consists of many, many stars who entertained the crowds and impressed the selectors with their blazing performances in the IPL. Whether it is the Pandya Brothers (Hardik and Krunal), Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, or any other star who is dawning the Indian jersey at the international stage, it is at the IPL where they truly hit their stride to reach the apex of the cricketing world.
Furthermore, with every season of the IPL (and other domestic tournaments), new talent pools emerge to keep the cycle going. These competitions are essentially machines that generate awe-inspiring players - determined and passionate - to play for the Indian National Cricket Team.
Granted that cricket is played in other parts of the world too but in India, it is definitely in a league above the rest. In a country where cricket is practically a household game, thousands want to build a life around it, and millions follow it with absolute zeal. The current roster of India's national team comes from these humble beginnings who, in effect, have set a precedent for the next-gen players.