These are the big guns of Indian sports whose actions, both on and off the field, are followed by millions of doting fans. It is no surprise that most in this list are cricketers, given that the contest between bat and ball is, by a distance, the most viewed sport in the country.
So, as part of an exclusive series, Yahoo India brings to you a list of India’s 10 most influential athletes.
Check out the methodology of how the list was arrived at the end of this piece.
1. Rohit Sharma: The ‘hitman’ of world cricket got the Khel Ratna Award this year for an outstanding 2019 with the bat. The opening batsman scored 556 runs at an average of 92.66 in five Tests and 1,490 ODI runs at 57.30, including five centuries at a single World Cup.
2. Virat Kohli: The ever-so-expressive captain helped India become the first-ever team in men's T20I cricket to seal a clean sweep in a 5-match T20I series against New Zealand this year. He also happens to be the most followed Asian celebrity on Instagram.
3. Sourav Ganguly: Dada took charge of the world’s richest (strongest) cricket board this year ending a tumultuous 33-month reign of the Supreme Court-appointed COA - and he means business.
4. MS Dhoni: Captain Cool shocked us all on the Independence Day when he announced his retirement from International cricket. Dhoni, who taught us the importance of reading the game as it progressed, will continue to play for CSK in IPL.
5. Sachin Tendulkar: It’s a never-ending love…between cricket and the little master. He still follows the game very closely, still offers advice to the young ones and is still adored by the millions around the world.
6. Sania Mirza: The tennis star, 33, won the Hobart International doubles title at the beginning of the year after a two-year maternity break. The 33-year-old still remains a force to reckon with in doubles and is pleasantly vocal about the issues that impact society.
7. Deepti Sharma: The Indian all-rounder was honoured with the Arjuna Award this year for her achievements in the field of cricket. Deepti remains the fastest Indian to achieve a double of 1,000 runs and 50 wickets in ODIs.
8. Sunil Chhetri: The highest ever goal-scorer in Indian football history is desperately looking forward to the 2020-21 season of the Indian Super League.
9. Mary Kom: The 37-year-old six-time World Champion and five-time Asian Champion secured her second Olympic berth this year and is hungry for more.
10. PV Sindhu: The reigning world champion will go into Tokyo Olympics as No.1 player next year and is training hard for that elusive gold medal.
Methodology: Compiling the definitive list of the who's who of a country as diverse as India is not easy. But the influence these sports stars have over their respective fields is truly remarkable.
Personalities in this list have been recognised on the basis of their influence over their respective sports, their fans and people, in general, and also the change they have brought about.
The final list was compiled by Yahoo editors taking into account the aforementioned points and also factors such as the social media influence these stars wield, their popularity, their impact on the society, their newsworthiness, their wealth, the general power they possess to make things happen, and readers’ polls.
This list looks at the ‘10 most influential athletes in India’. Other lists will rank entertainers, politicians, media-persons and those from the world of business.
Look out for these in the coming days. Like all such rankings, these too are subjective and open to debate.
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