London: Noting that India has just hosted a superb World Cup, a leading London daily said India`s economic rise has coincided almost exactly with the career of batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar.
"India`s victory in the World Cup was not just a story about cricket. It was an economic success story as much as a cricketing one," Ed Smith wrote in `The Times`.
"It is true that India have won the World Cup before, in 1983. But that was an underdog victory that did not reflect the real cricketing balance of power. In 1983, England still shaped and administered the game," the report said.
"Now, 28 years on, India haven`t just won the World Cup, they lead the world in every department of the game.
"India has the most lucrative and influential tournament, the Indian Premier League, that dictates terms to the rest of the world. It has the biggest market and the most iconic players.
"And it has now hosted a superb World Cup, dominated on the pitch and achieved both with the assured touch of a nation at ease with its supremacy," the report added.
India`s position at the summit of the cricketing world is inconceivable without its parallel economic journey.
In 1989, when Tendulkar made his Test debut as a 16-year-old, "you couldn`t buy a Coca-Cola in India."
Only in 1993 were Coke and Pepsi allowed into the Indian market.
Now these two have a different battle; not to get on the shelves, but to land the biggest endorsements.
When Pepsi secured M S Dhoni, the match-winning Indian captain, on a huge deal, Coke responded by signing up Tendulkar as an "ambassador".
"In fact, Tendulkar`s career coincides almost exactly with the Indian economic revolution that began in 1991 with Manmohan Singh`s liberalisation reforms -- and the newly rich Indian middle classes have seen Tendulkar as the embodiment of their aspirations," the report said.
The report also said, "Tendulkar once looked to England to complete his sporting education and to earn a living.
"When Tendulkar played for Yorkshire as their overseas professional in 1992, it must have felt like playing for Manchester United.
"Yorkshire were the most famous team in what was then the world`s most prestigious and lucrative domestic league.
"Now, in the age of the IPL, for an Indian star to play at a windswept county ground in front of a handful of fans would require an act of charity rather than economic self-interest.
"For a cricketer to get rich these days he has to crack the Indian market; anything else is minor league. Dhoni`s annual income is estimated at $10 million," the report said.