By Amit Kumar

Jagran Post Network: When it comes to sports, Cricket in India is often referred to as ‘fever’. Cricket has achieved the status of a religion in India with millions of hearts throbbing for it when we see how crowds begin filling the stadium much before time on match days!
 
Though Hockey is the national game of India, it lost its pre-eminence due to the emergence of Cricket and of course, the team’s consistent underperformance in the game.
 
 The different versions of the game have their own followers with the One Day matches and Twenty 20 comprising youngsters and the Test matches followed by puritans.
 
On occasions when India loses a match, the stands get empty and sometimes people throw bottles at the opponent team – or even at the home side for their lack of aggression - to show their strong feelings. It's true that people are crazy and they want to see India win – at any cost.
 
While there is maddening celebration after winning a game, effigies of players are burnt after losing one. One performance makes a player God for the fans, yet another makes him an object of bitter scorn.
 
Whether it is 20-20 or a 50 over format, real Cricket fans always appreciate a good shot even by an opponent team's player. Such an attitude is commonplace in foreign countries with regards to other games like tennis. It is a common instance there when people come together to appreciate a good game rather than support a particular player.
 
The T20 Cricket tournament has instantly made cricket very popular throughout the world and enriched both the Indian as well as International players who are suited to this format.
 
The organization of T20 matches and the immense popularity enjoyed by them has practically converted cricket into a festival or carnival of sorts, commanding no less enthusiasm than any religious festival celebrated in India or elsewhere in the world.
 
Cricket originated in England and caught fancy in West Indies, but in India, with 1.2 billion people crazy about it, cricket has become a 'religion'.
Irrespective of age group, cricket is played and watched by one and all in India.
 
A reason for any sports to prosper is of adequate infrastructure and facilities for it. However, India has well equipped cricket stadiums in almost all cities like Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkatta , Delhi, Bangaluru, Hyderabad, Cochin, Vizakapattinam, Cuttack, Ahamadabad, Jaipur, Kanpur, Guwhati and a picturesque one constructed in the valley of Himalayas.
 
All the stadiums are well planned and well furnished to international standards and are spread far and wide in India. The cricket stadium in Kolkatta – Eden Ganrdens - has a seating capacity of 1,00,000 people.
 
There is no dearth of icons to look upto and emulate for our youth either. India boasts of a number of cricket legends like Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev and Sachin Tendulkar and others, who enjoy a great reputation across the world.
 
Tendulkar,  who is ahead of all cricketers and is an inspiration for everybody, is considered as God of cricket.
 
Master Blaster, as he is befittingly called, began to play for India in the year 1989 and he is today the world’s highest run scorer, surpassing Brian Lara’s record of 12,000 runs in Test cricket. He has scored 41 centuries in the ODIs (One Day International Matches) and 41 Test centuries in his glittering career.
 
Training and making of a cricketer is a thorough and systematic process which throws up the finest players. According to the age of the players, they are classified, trained and permitted to play in different cricket matches. There are separate cricket tournaments for the cricket players in the age group of under15, under 19 and Ranji Trophy matches. The players who excel in these matches are finally screened and selected by a selection committee to play in the Indian team at the international level.
 
Being ingenuous in nature, Indians have never let any constraints come in way of developing their game. If there are no play grounds, gullies serve the purpose. Leather balls are comfortably replaced by cosco or even plastic ones. Bats – take a tree stump, an examination paper board, a book and you have a bat good to hit any delivery!
It all may be funny, but Indians take their game quite seriously. That is one reason that Team India is always under immense pressure to perform well. Perhaps it is time that a game is considered just that – a game. Not a question of life and death.

But if it is taken in spirit of religion, then it surely can – and does – play the role of a great unifier in a country where there are millions of faiths and fans of cricket will get a glimpse of the Mahakumbh of their favourite game.