There are some moments during the year when India goes quite. Roads are empty. Crowds are missing. One billion people hold their breath. It's thr last bowl and MS Dhoni is at the crease. You could hear a pin drop all over the subcontinent. This is the power of cricket in India. In a country of diversity and dichotomy, it is a tie that binds. From the by lanes of Rajasthan and the coconut groves of Kerala to the grandeur of Kolkata's Eden Gardens, cricket is one of the few languages we all speak.

When the British colonised India, it was not all work and no play. British sailord played cricket when they had time off in between their duties and as the Empire's influence spread through the nation, so did the game of cricket. They played the game in every colonial outpost, passing the skills on to Indians and slowly creating a nation of batsmen and bowlers.

When Lagaan was released in 2001, it combined the two things that Indians are most passionate about, cricket and Bollywood, and rolled it into a patriotic story. The success of the film was capped with it's selection in the Best Foreign Film category at Oscars in 2002.

Cricket soon became a part of the national fabric and as such, experienced many of the struggles that the nation was also going through. One such struggle was against the caste system which, as in other aspects of Indian society, unfortunately reared its head in cricket. One of the first prolific Indian cricketers was Palwankar Baloo, an 'untouchable' who had to fight for his place in the Hindu team despite his skill as a bowler. Baloo was also never allowed to bat, as batsmen were seen to be of higher status. He broke through these prejudices and emerged as one of the leaders of the Hindu team.

Cricketing Rivalries

The Ashes

The most famous cricket tournament, the Ashes began when Australia beat England for the first time on English soil in 1882. A newspaper bitterly proclaimed that English cricket had dies and "the body will be cremated and the ashes taken back to Australia". After this, there has been an Ashes test series every two years, except during the World Wars, with Australia dominating by the end of the 20th century.

India - Pakistan

This rivalry runs parallel to the other tensions between these two South Asian teams. For fans, a match between India and Pakistan id an intense affair. Pakistan has never been able to defeat India in the World Cup. Both teams know what is at stake when they step onto the field against one another.

Cricket Phrases

"That's Just Not Cricket " : Means that a person has acted in a way that breaks or bends a rule in a sport, a business, or in life in general.

"On A Sticky Wicket " : This describes a difficult situation a person may be in. It was originally used to describe the cricket pitch after the rains.

" Bowled Out" : When someone is out of chances and there is no chance of recovery. This is likening a person's fate to that of a bowled out batsman.

As the 20th century drew to a close, the Indian team had both highs and lows but steadily grew to become one of the top teams in the world, performing well in the World Cup and building a team of cricketing legends. The new century was a mixed bag for the Indian team with newer versions of the game ( IPL T20) that helped attract a younger audience and making the sport accessible in countries and places where cricket has a smaller presence, thereby making it a truly global sport.