Although the cricket rivalry between India and England was often bitter and influenced by colonial history, it has changed in recent years. The image of former India captain Sourav Ganguly waving his jersey in jubilation on the balcony of Lord’s Cricket Stadium is deeply etched in the memory of every Indian Cricket World Cup  fan.

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It was July 13, 2002. India defeated England by two wickets in a tense NatWest series finale with Ganguly’s side chasing a powerful target of 326 in the final. The match, hailed as one of the greatest in one-day cricket, was a titanic clash between the golden age of Indian cricket that featured Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and Anil Kumble, and an England team that boasted top players like Nasser Hussain, Marcus Trescothick. and Andrew Flintoff.

For India, the win was sweet revenge after England held them 3-3 at home in the ODI series earlier that year. After Zaheer Khan scored the win, Ganguly waved India’s jersey, exposing his torso, and hurled insults, hitting back after Flintoff celebrated topless at the Wankhede Stadium during England’s tour of India.

Changing Dynamics of the India-England Cricket Rivalry

India and England have played over 100 ODI international matches since the 1970s, and tensions have run high during these clashes. There were instances of aggression, moments of good banter and a strong sense of competition between the players.

But as India and England prepare to meet at the Cricket World Cup on Sunday, Indian fans feel their so-called rivalry has softened over the past few years as players from both countries compete together in franchise leagues, including Twenty20 Indian Premier League.

“Certainly the rivalry between India and England has diminished, Chirag Narasimia, a commercial and corporate lawyer based in Bengaluru, told Al Jazeera. Aggression between teams in international cricket has generally subsided due to the IPL and other leagues.”

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English players have been playing in the IPL since its inception in 2008, and many have built a strong fan base in the cricket-loving country. England Test captain and all-rounder Ben Stokes, who has played for IPL teams Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings, is an Indian favourite.

During England’s Cricket World Cup match against South Africa at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai last weekend, Indian fans cheered for him every time he held the ball and chanted his name as he took the field in the second innings.

Jos Buttler and Joe Root, who both played for the Rajasthan Royals in the 2023 IPL season, also received a similar reception from the Mumbai fans even though England suffered a huge defeat. The IPL has allowed fans to get to know many players from different countries, says Ali Taabish Nomani, a Lucknow-based insurance consultant.

Building Bridges Beyond Borders: IPL and Its Impact on Fan Engagement

“Many fans are very aware of our cricket-loving country, so once they see a player doing well, they will support him, no matter what country he comes from. Be it even Ben Stokes from England.”

Narasimia, who also consults on sports law matters, said the IPL is a great tool to bridge the gap between Indian fans and overseas players. The league has opened up the game to many casual fans who don’t really understand or engage with the rivalry. According to him, these fans are happy to just watch the game and enjoy who is playing well.

“I think that has increased over the years and has led to fewer conversations discussing whether a player is from England or Australia. Besides, England players have been touring India and playing in the IPL for so many years that it is nothing new for them. They also make an effort to assimilate.”

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The Emotional Bonds Created by IPL

For Dion George, a Mumbai-based software developer, supporting the Chennai Super Kings made him emotionally invested in the career of England batsman Sam Curran. Curran played for the Chennai-based IPL franchise in the 2020-21 IPL season before joining Punjab Kings this year. But this did not affect George’s support for the Englishman. Cricket fans can book Cricket World Cup Final Tickets on our website at exclusively discounted prices.

Because I have followed him for so long because of my devotion to Chennai, I am so used to supporting him. I still get happy when I see him doing well in Punjab or even in England, George said. Apart from Curran, George is also a big supporter of Buttler and included the England captain in his fantasy team during the IPL a couple of seasons ago.

When you play fantasy games, you subconsciously set yourself up for these players to succeed, and this stays for a long time. Once Buttler is in my fantasy team, I will be looking forward to seeing him do well even in international Test cricket and Cricket World Cups, said 26-year-old George.

“When I attended the England match against South Africa, I was most upset to see him go.”

Colonial history

While India and England have been rivals on the cricket field, the countries also have a long history, with British rule of the Indian subcontinent from 1858 to 1947.

Cricket, which originated in England, was brought to the Indian subcontinent by sailors and traders of the English East India Company in the 17th and 18th centuries and became a very popular sport among Indians when India defeated its former colonizers England on their own soil in 1971 – a victory in three-Test series with a score of 1–0.

In 1983, India won the Cricket World Cup for the first time, lifting the trophy at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London, once called the cathedral of cricket. Then in 2011, India won their second World Cup title and England won the CWC for the first time in 2019, ending an agonizing 44-year wait to become world champions in the sport they invented.

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Britain’s colonial history has not been forgotten, but Indian fans say it does not affect them when they watch a cricket match between India and England. I don’t think about British colonialism because what happened is now in the past and we have to learn from history, said Nomani, who will be attending the India vs England match in Lucknow on Sunday.

“I never looked at it that way, to me it’s just two teams from two countries playing cricket.”

Narasimia said India’s achievements in cricket have proven that it is better than its former colonizers. I don’t think colonial history matters that much to today’s fans, especially in the 20-30 age group. This is because India sort of ‘made it’ by winning the Cricket World Cup before England, he said.

England’s poor form

England go into Sunday’s match against table-toppers India with four defeats from five matches. Mathematically, England are not yet out of contention for the semi-finals, but their hopes hang in the balance as they sit second behind the Netherlands on net run rate.

Dismal batting let England down several times during their Cricket World Cup title defense, while their bowlers also failed to step up. However, India fan Nomani expects Sunday’s clash in Lucknow to be an interesting one.

“I believe it will be a good match because the pitch has been completely changed since the Cricket World Cup was held at this venue. It could be a neutral venue for both teams…and also with England coming into the game with four losses, they could be aggressive and India could be eliminated as they have won all five matches, the 30-year-old said. I would say India will have to lose this match, but it will be an aggressive and competitive game.”

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How Pakistan can still qualify for Cricket World Cup knockouts despite South Africa setback

Pakistan’s future in the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup looks uncertain after recent defeats to Afghanistan and South Africa as the tournament heads into its second half. The 1992 champions have a chance to reach the semi-finals of the CWC, but their qualification will depend on the performance of other teams.

Pakistan, under the captaincy of Babar Azam, started the 2023 World Cup with two wins in a row. Shaheen’s won their opening match against the Netherlands in Hyderabad and then completed a record-breaking Cricket World Cup run against Sri Lanka at the same venue.

Pakistan, however, suffered a major dip in form after facing 2023 Cricket World Cup hosts India on October 14. The poor performance saw them bowled out for 199 against India, who comfortably won the game by seven wickets in 31 overs at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.

Pakistan’s Roller Coaster Cricket World Cup Journey

The defeat to India was followed by Pakistan’s defeats to lower-ranked Australia and Afghanistan, as well as a crushing defeat to South Africa. Pakistan’s net run rate fell to -0.378 after four straight defeats in the ongoing 50-over Cricket World Cup. But Azam’s side are just outside the top four with six points from five matches with three games remaining in the group stage.

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Pakistan will next face Bangladesh in the group stage of the group stage, followed by New Zealand and England. India, New Zealand and South Africa have taken things to another level this campaign and these three teams have already had one foot in the semi-finals. The fourth spot, currently occupied by Australia, is still open.

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