Hasan Minhaj's lowdown on intricacies of cricket in his Netflix special

Comedian Hasan Minhaj (The New York Times)

The Cricket World Cup is currently in full swing in England and Wales, and fans are catching the game, whether on TV, online or live. Cricket has been compared to being a religion in the subcontinent, and almost no one growing up in the region has been able to distance themselves from the sport and the mania that goes around it.

But along with its popularity and craze, one cannot deny the corruption that’s prevalent in the game. It’s always been the topic of hot debates and discussions, and the issue was once again in the frontlines, thanks to Indian-American comedian Hasan Minhaj.

A few days before the world cup began on May 30, Minhaj, in his Netflix special, talked about the phenomenon of cricket and how India is a dominant force in the game and about the corruption in the sport that has left power in few hands.

In a attempt to decipher the sport and its shenanigans and the power struggle to lay Americans who are not aware of the power of cricket, Minhaj, in the latest episode of “The Patriot Act,”

began with his experiences growing up, where he was made to watch the game which went on for a “week.” Alluding to the five-day Test format, he went on to talk about other forms of the game, including the T-20.

In typical Minhaj style, he explained how the BCCI (India’s cricket governing body) has used the multibillion-dollar Indian Premier League (IPL) to reduce the International Cricket Council (ICC) and other countries to mere puppets. Featured in the show are former West Indies cricketers Brian Lara and Michael Holding. He even interviewed ex-IPL mogul Lalit Modi who accepts blame for helping BCCI grow bigger than the game, saying the Indian body controls the ICC.

“In 2019, cricket is becoming less inclusive because of corruption and greed and no country is more to blame than India,” Minhaj said. “

The allegation was a huge blow and the biggest controversy till then as Lalit Modi was charged on five counts -- shady initial bids of Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab; a suspect broadcast deal with Sony; bid rigging of two new franchises this year; and his behavioral pattern.

But in his interview with Minhaj, Modi pleads not guilty to every offense against him except one — that by creating the IPL, the BCCI began to control the IPL. “I did, and I didn’t foresee this,” Modi replied. “That’s right. I am to blame for it.”

During the show, Minhaj also points out how cricket has been a unifier, and how it has affected the relations between India and Pakistan, and how the sport has helped Afghanistan come on the international spotlight. He ended he episode by saying that it is a matter of immense pride that India are the champions of cricket but it feels like we have now colonized the sport, that we got from our colonizers, for our advantage.

This is Minhaj’s second episode that is India-centric, the first being the one on Indian elections in season two.

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