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    The Evolution of a Cricket Rivalry: How Indian Fans Grew to Appreciate English Players

    Former India captain, Sourav Ganguly, etching a memorable image at Lord’s Cricket Stadium by jubilantly swinging his jersey remains deeply imprinted in the hearts of Indian cricket enthusiasts.

    On July 13, 2002, Ganguly’s squad secured a thrilling victory against England, chasing a formidable target of 326 in the final over, clinching the NatWest series by two wickets.

    English players’ participation in the IPL since its inception in 2008 has fostered a devoted fan base in cricket-loving India.

    Ben Stokes, England’s test captain and all-rounder, representing IPL teams like Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings, has garnered significant adoration among Indian fans. During England’s World Cup match against South Africa at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium, Indian supporters vocally backed Stokes when he took the field and cheered him during his batting innings.

    Jos Buttler and Joe Root, both IPL participants for Rajasthan Royals in the 2023 season, received warm support from the Mumbai crowd, despite England’s substantial loss.

    Ali Taabish Nomani, an insurance consultant from Lucknow, highlighted that the IPL exposure to players from various nations prompts knowledgeable Indian fans to support performers based on their skill, regardless of nationality.

    According to sports law advisor Narasimiah, the IPL serves as a conduit connecting Indian fans with international players, creating a more relaxed atmosphere, focusing on the game’s enjoyment rather than national rivalries.

    Narasimiah emphasized the growing trend where fans don’t dwell on a player’s country of origin, attributing this shift to the regular presence of England players in India through IPL participation and tours, leading to better integration.

    Software developer Dion George, a fervent supporter of Chennai Super Kings, expressed emotional investment in England batter Sam Curran’s career, despite his transition to Punjab Kings in the IPL. This allegiance led George to maintain his support for Curran, expressing joy in the player’s success regardless of team or international commitments.

    George further noted that this subconscious alignment carries through in fantasy gaming, where choices made during the IPL extend to continued support for chosen players in international tournaments and formats, such as Test cricket and World Cups.

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