He is one of the faces of cable television news in India and is largely associated with the country’s political discussions today, but deep down Rajdeep Sardesai is a self-confessed cricket romantic. He believes the Indian cricket team represents the idea of India as inclusive, built around merit, hard work, sacrifice, and opportunity. And he traces that in his recently released book - Democracy’s XI.

“This is the most aspirational country in the world and cricket symbolizes that aspiration,” says Sardesai, in a video interview with Scroll.in’s Smitha Nair. “You had the feudals and the princes and who ran or governed Indian cricket through the 1930s and even the 1940s. It’s really in the 1950s that the whiff of change comes with the rise of the middle class cricketer. And it really gets momentum in the 1960s and the 1970s. But the real dramatic transformation is in the last 20 years.”

The last decade especially has seen a rise in the number of cricketers from smaller towns going on to successfully represent India and no one encapsulates that better than Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

“Dhoni is the symbol of the democratising spirit of cricket,” says Sardesai. “To come from Jharkhand, Ranchi and to achieve what he has, he has become now a symbol of aspiration, inspiration for every young Indian from small time India, who believes I can do it. Not just in cricket but that I can crack the medical exams, I can crack IAS, I can become the head of Infosys. I think he is the symbol of that vaulting aspiration.”

Sardesai goes on to talk about the significance of being Sachin Tendulkar, the changing demographics within the Indian dressing and much more. You can watch the full video here: