I've always had a deep connection to India, even though I grew up in the United States. I've spent a lot of time in the country, and though it took a while to learn my way around my family's hometown in rural Gujarat and even longer to study the languages my parents speak, it didn't take any time at all to learn what truly stirs passion in most Indians around the world: cricket.
Despite my limited exposure to the sport in the U.S., cricket season in India seems to turn everyone there into an avid fan. I become drawn to the heated debates about... the best wicketkeepers and bowlers, and impressed at the intensity of team rivalries like India vs. Pakistan or England vs. Australia. Sharing this experience with my family members while I'm there makes me feel so much more connected to them and to the country—but it's very challenging to carry over this energy and excitement when I'm back home in the States.
As the popularity of cricket increases worldwide, more fans are bringing their passionate conversations online and onto Facebook. With more than 400 million people around the world on Facebook, including 8 million in India, fans can keep sharing in the excitement about cricket even when they're far away from the pitch.
While cricket fervor is quickly gaining momentum, especially now at the height of the Indian Premiere League (IPL), staying connected through Facebook Pages and Facebook Connect can help elevate it to a whole new level.
Show Your Team Allegiance
By becoming a fan of the Indian Premiere League Page, you can receive updates about key matches, discover interesting content and connect with other fans around hot IPL topics. Many league teams, such as the Deccan Chargers, Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals , also have Facebook Pages where you can engage with other fans and get exclusive behind-the-scenes looks at your favorite teams and players.
Cricket news sites such as ESPN Cricinfo also provide real-time updates on the IPL and international cricket through their Facebook Page, share exclusive photos and videos, and offer fans with a forum to discuss everything and anything about the sport.
Connect with Cricket Everywhere
Facebook Connect lets people bring their real identity and friends with them wherever they are, whether online or on devices like a mobile phone. For instance, by logging into Facebook on websites like ESPN Cricinfo, you can easily share articles and comments back to your friends on Facebook.
Sites like Indiagames.com have also launched a series of exclusive web and mobile IPL cricket games that are powered by Facebook Connect. IPL Indiagames T20 Fever is an online game where you can select friends and buy virtual versions of popular IPL players to build your own cricket teams, and then compete for a chance to become the next IPL Champion.
IPL Indiagames T20 Fever can also be found on the iPhone, where people can use Facebook Connect for iPhone to build and manage their teams while on the go.
Through our Facebook Connect Live Feed widget, fans can even have a real-time conversation with friends, other fans and cricket players. Stay tuned this Saturday for a live web chat with Dinesh Karthik, captain of the Delhi Daredevils, powered by Facebook and Livestream. Dinesh will be one of the first IPL players to chat live on Facebook with fans about his experiences at IPL and his views on the rest of the season.
As someone who's experienced cricket firsthand in India, I'm excited that more people can share their passion for IPL and international cricket. Because of their authentic connections on Facebook, fans now can participate in the same heated "living-room" debates about the world's best bowlers, wicketkeepers, and team rivalries—regardless of where they are.
Meenal, a manager on Facebook's international growth team, is patiently waiting for Team Bhavnagar.