List of Most Popular Sports in India

List of Most Popular Sports in India

India is one of the largest and most diverse countries in the world. As a result, sports and sporting life occupy a varied and complex place in Indian history and culture. Indians have participated in sports since the Ancient Era. Badminton and a form of wrestling were invented in India around this time, and the world’s first sports stadium was built in Gujarat in 3 BCE. British rule in the nineteenth century introduced many new sports that remain popular today, such as cricket, field hockey, snooker, and polo.

Today, cricket is the sport that draws the most attention in Indian popular culture. Tennis, football (soccer), basketball, and boxing are also prominent in culture, though not nearly as much as cricket. One of the fastest-growing sports in India is kabaddi, a traditional sport that originated in South Asia. Kabaddi is a contact sport played by teams of seven in which points are scored by tagging opponents in their own territory. 


Cricket is the most popular sport in India by a wide margin. One reason for cricket’s popularity is the national team’s continuous dominance beginning with India’s World Cup victory in 1983. Indians have a historical connection to cricket, as it was introduced by British colonizers in the eighteenth century. Cricket is the most widely broadcasted and extensively promoted sport by major Indian sporting media outlets. Top cricket stars regularly achieve celebrity status, aided by the exposure of endorsement deals.

What is the most-watched sporting event in India?

The Cricket World Cup is the most-watched sporting event in India. The World Cup is held only once every four years, and its tournament format adds to the excitement and popularity. Broadcasts of the Cricket World Cup regularly draw over 400 million viewers, with the final match between India and Sri Lanka in 2011 getting over 550 million television viewers. Matches between the Indian national team and Pakistan, a longtime rival, are also hugely popular with viewers. Over 300 million people regularly watch India vs. Pakistan matches.

How many people play sports in India?

Although sports and sports stars, especially cricket, soccer, and tennis, occupy a prominent place in Indian culture, relatively few Indians participate in sports. India remains a developing country, particularly in terms of infrastructure and overall quality of life. Consequently, very few citizens have the time or resources required to play sports. According to a recent study conducted by the BBC, Less than forty percent of Indians regularly participate in sports or physical activity. 

Who are the most famous athletes in India?

Due to cricket’s overwhelming popularity, the most famous athletes in India are cricket stars. The first famous cricket players were Ranjitsinhji and Duleepsinhji, two Indians who played for the English cricket team in the early 1900s. Sunil Gavaskar,  Gundappa Viswanath, Mohammad Azharuddin, Dilip Vengsarkar, Kapil Dev, and Ravi Shastri are all famous cricket stars from the period of India’s ascendency to cricket dominance in the 1970s and 1980s. Today the most famous cricket players are Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Ravichandran Ashwin, Rohit Sharma, Harbhajan Singh, Shikhar Dhawan, and Irfan Pathan.