Which is India's most popular sport? Find out more details

Which is India's most popular sport? Find out more details

Claudia Kogi
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:22 PM

India has been home to different kinds of obsessions and passions for many decades. Despite the presence of a diverse sample of citizens, there are a few areas that capture the imagination of a large segment of society. Consequently, some sports people could never think of have emerged as India's most popular sports today.

Second most popular sport in India
Which is India's most popular sport? Find out more details! Photo: Nasir Kachroo (Modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

India is a vast country with a population of over 1.3 billion people. However, the country is not well-known in the sports world, at least not internationally. So, what is the most popular sport in India? Is it cricket, soccer, car racing, or basketball?

Different kinds of games are played in this country, from popular ones such as football and cricket to lesser-known ones. The most common sports played locally include Kho-kho, Langdi, and Gillidanda. According to the most recent data analysis, below are some of India's most popular sports you could be interested in checking out.

10. Motorsport

Motorsport is a prevalent form of sport amongst the youth. The game's development commenced in the country only post the 2000s, with two popular Indian drivers, Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok, being the flag-bearers.

Is cricket the most popular sport in India?
Jehan Daruvala of India and MP Motorsport on track during Formula 2 testing at Yas Marina Circuit on 24 November 2022 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Photo: Joe Portlock
Source: Getty Images

The first ever Formula One Indian Grand Prix event was held in 2011 at the Buddh International Circuit. The country is also represented in F1 by Force India Formula One Team Limited, managed by a prestigious entrepreneur, Vijay Mallya.

9. Table tennis

When a topic about the most popular indoor sports in India comes up, the one sport that often comes to mind is table tennis. However, it is most famous in states like West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and Gujarat.

Second most popular sport in India
Thakkar Manav Vikash of India competes against Iskandarov Shokhrukh of Uzbekistan during the Men's Group match at Chengdu High-tech Sports Centre on 1 October 2022 in Chengdu, Sichuan. Photo: VCG
Source: Getty Images

The sport's official governing body is the Table Tennis Federation. Following its foundation, the sport immensely grew over the years, and currently, the men's team is ranked 10th while the Women's team is ranked 22nd worldwide.

Even though little is known about the players, the country boasts some of the best TT players in the world. Some players include Sharath Kamal, Manika Batra, and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran.

8. Boxing

Yes, the country has also seen some popular contact games like boxing. However, initially, it was not people's favourite cup of coffee as it had a small fan base. Consequently, it was because the country needed more international success.

What is the most popular sport in India?
India's Shiva Thapa (R) fights Scotland's Reese Lynch during their men's Light Welter round of 16 bout on day three of the Commonwealth Games at the NEC Arena on 31 July 2022. Photo: Darren Staples
Source: Getty Images

Today, the sport has begun to gain a little more popularity. Regarding the game, it came into the limelight after wrestler Vijender Singh won a bronze medal in the 2008 Beijing games. It later braced the boxing world reaching new heights after the famous pugilist Mary Kom became the first female athlete to win a boxing medal.

7. Wrestling

If boxing is mentioned, you can rest assured that wrestling must be on the list. Westling is among the oldest sports in the world and has a long history. It has gained popularity over time and even brought glory to the country by bringing home several medals.

What is the most popular sport in India?
Nisha Nisha of India in action against Ami Ishii of Japan during the women's free style world wrestling championships at Stark Arena on 14 September 2022 in Belgrade, Serbia. Photo: Srdjan Stevanovic
Source: Getty Images

Well-decorated wrestlers like Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt, and Sakshi Malik have brought several medals since the country conceived the game.

6. Tennis

By now, you can tell that Indian nationalities somewhat know their way around the racket games. The country has seen many tennis players who have achieved world-class recognition and have made appearances in some of the top tennis tournaments and grand slams.

One of the most famous tennis players is Sania Mirza, a former world number 1 in the doubles discipline. Moreover, she has won six Grand Slam titles throughout her career. Amid her retirement, she was ranked by the WTA as India's number-one player in both categories.

What are the most popular sports played in India?
Pedro Martinez of Spain, Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, Rohan Bopanna of India, and Denis of Canada during the Men's Doubles first round match on 13 June 2022 in London, England. Photo: Julian Finney
Source: Getty Images

Even though she eventually retired, Sania has established herself as one of the best female tennis players in the world. The game was established in 1920 by the All-India Tennis Association, AITA.

5. Kabaddi

Kabaddi is a contact game that has its original roots in India. Therefore, it must be among the most popular sports in India as of 2023. Although the game was mainly played in the villages, it is currently the most popular sport in the country.

This game is divided into four forms:

  • Amar
  • Siranjeevi
  • Huttuttoo
  • Gaminee
Is cricket the most popular sport in India?
Players in action during a kabaddi match between Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra during Khelo India at Tau Devi Lal Stadium on 5 June 2022 in Panchkula, India. Photo: Sant Arora
Source: Getty Images

The most applied form of Kabaddi used internationally in any match is the Siranjeevi form. India proved their passion and commitment to the tennis world when it won gold medals in 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010. Moreover, they won six Kabaddi World Cups.

4. Hockey

Hockey is regarded as a national sport in India, and it is, in fact, among the most popular sports in the country as of 2023. The country shares a rich history, with significant numbers of medals bagged by the Indian hockey team.

India is known to be the most successful team ever in the Olympics, having bagged eight gold, one silver, and two bronze medals. The country boasts legendary hockey players like Dhanraj Pillay, Dhyan, and Chand Udham Singh.

India's most popular sport
James Collins and Nathan Ephraums of the Kookaburras training ahead of the international hockey test series between Australia and India on 24 November 2022 in Adelaide, Australia. Photo: Mark Brake
Source: Getty Images

However, after the last gold medal they won at the 1980 Olympics, the team's performance declined. But in 2016, after 36 years of struggle, the men's team won a silver medal in the Champions Trophy tournaments.

3. Badminton

Another yet racket game on the list is badminton. You might think badminton is an Asian-based game, but actually, Indians have known their way around the shuttlecock and the racket. It is the second most played sport in the country.

As of January 2023, K Srikanth is regarded as the most talented Indian shuttler ranking third in the BWF rankings in the men's category worldwide. In the women's category, PV Sindhu ranks at number third position.

Most popular sport in India after cricket
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty of India compete in action quarter finals match against Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi of Japan on 28 October 2022 in Paris, France. Photo: Shi Tang
Source: Getty Images

2. Football

Well! Well! Well! It is no surprise that football appears on the list. Besides, the game has seen several skilled players on the soccer pitch. Traditionally, the sport was popular in states like West Bengal, Goa, Kerala, and north-eastern India.

As of January 2023, Sunil Chhetri is the captain of the country's national football team. According to the recent FIFA World Rankings, the country ranks at 101. The country hosted the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, the 2020 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, and the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Football is the most popular sport in India after cricket.

Most popular sports in India as of 2023
Indian national football team players during a practice session at Ambedkar Stadium on 30 June 2008 in New Delhi, India. Photo: Virendra Singh Gosain
Source: Getty Images

Although other sports are played in the country, cricket is the most popular sport in India as of 2023.

1. Cricket

Cricket is by far the most watched sport in India. Its popularity is due to the fact that most fans follow it, and players emerge almost every season. Additionally, the sport has amassed significant following thanks to various sports channels and brands that promote cricket.

Most popular sports in India as of 2023
Richa Ghosh of India looks on during the T20 International series against Australia at Brabourne Stadium on 20 December 2022 in Mumbai, India. Photo: Pankaj Nangia
Source: Getty Images

Aside from his popularity, India has registered outstanding performances, winning two cricket World Cups in 1983 and 2011. Moreover, the country has produced some of the most decorated cricketers like Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar and Anil Kumble.

Sports have become an essential part of every modern civilisation, and today, so many games are played worldwide. In a list of India's most popular sports, you will realise that the country has also produced some of the best racket-game players despite cricket being the most popular sport.

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Claudia Kogi photo
Claudia Kogi
Claudia Kogi is a Kenyan content creator with over 3 years of experience. Claudia joined Sportsbrief.com as a writer in January 2022, covering sports and relatable content.