Global search engine Yahoo’s India arm has picked 10 Most Influential Sports Personalities in the country. Expectedly Virat Kohli tops the table for 2019 among the illustrious list that also includes two former Indian cricket team captains Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and Team India coach Ravi Shastri.
The ace athletes are ranked as per their perceived as well as real clout in their respective disciplines. The factors that determined a player’s ratings included “measurable success in terms of their performances, visibility and standing in traditional and social media, achievements in the last 12 months, the impact they have made within the country and outside, and that intangible ‘wow’ factor that lends these people the Midas touch”.
Here are the Top 10 Most Influential Athletes are attributes that place them in the coveted position a published by Yahoo:
10. Saina Nehwal: Most celebrated current Indian badminton star along with PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth is placed at the bottom of the table. Saina has had an impressive 12 months on the court. After beating Sindhu in the 2018 Commonwealth Games finals, she had repeated the feat in the National Championship finals. Her biopic, now starring Parineeti Chopra, has also been a factor in determining Saina’s clout.
9. Sunil Chhetri: Only behind Cristiano Ronaldo for scoring the highest number of international goals, “Captain Fantastic: Chhetri is the most visible face of Indian football. The India and Bengaluru FC striker has also been conferred the Padma Shri award this year. His influence among masses was to the fore when his appeal to the masses to turn up in big numbers for Indian football teams matches became an instant social media rage. Within days from Chhetri’s appeal, India’s match against Kenya in Mumbai had a full sold out house. This incidentally was also his 100th international outing for India.
8. Hardik Pandya: Irrespective of his sexiest remarks on the Karan Zohar show, which led to his suspension from the Indian cricket team, the all-rounder finds a place among the most influential athletes. “Whatever Hardik does with his hair or clothes, becomes a rage amongst the youth. He attained national notoriety for his remarks on a talk show. But Hardik emerged from the darkness like a champion, first helping Mumbai Indians to yet another IPL title and then excelling as an all-rounder in the World Cup. Kapil Dev’s rightful heir? Maybe not. But the boy sure is talented and has a lot of spirit,” Yahoo states in its citation text.
7. Harmanpreet Kaur: She was named the captain of the India team for the 2018 ICC Women’s World T20 tournament. She let her bat do the talking as she became the first Indian woman to score a T20I century and turned out to be the country’s highest run-getter for the tournament. Surely, this year, the mantle passed on from Mithali Raj to Harmanpreet. Harmanpreet has also made her mark in Cricket Australia’s Big Bash T20 League for women.
6. PV Sindhu: Among the World’s top ten highest paid female athletes, Sindhu sits pretty at the No. 6 position in a list overshadowed by cricketer. She finally broke her finals jinx by becoming the first Indian to win the prestigious BWF World Tour event last year. In a list published by Forbes, Sindhu was named the seventh-highest paid female athlete in the world for the year 2018. Her earnings were estimated to be around ₹60 crore a year.
5. Sachin Tendulkar: Country’s first ₹ 100-crore brand icon, Sachin Tendulkar continues to influence masses even after hanging his bat with his aura and epochal contribution to the game. It has been many years since the Master Blaster retired from cricket, but his words and advice are still much sought after in the sport circles. His viewpoints – whether on MS Dhoni’s slow batting or on ICC’s bizarre boundary-count rule – started trends of their own on social media. All said and done, Indians still love Sachin and, in yahoo ratings, he continues to be the curly-haired cherub that he was back in 1989.
4. Ravi Shastri: Irrespective of India’s elimination from the ICC World Cup semi-finals this year, Head Coach Ravi Shastri remains the best candidate to serve in that position for the next three years. That aptly sums up the aura and influence of the former India captain. The Indian coach was as important as the captain when it came to calling the shots for the team selection. Be it his outrageous statements or the constant and unhealthy scrutiny of his personal ‘habits’, Shastri was always in the news. He also enjoys the firm backing of his captain.
3. Rohit Sharma: It seems India’s limited-overs vice-captain can do nothing wrong on the cricket field. As a batsman, he was at his lethal best, hitting a phenomenal five tons to become the highest run-scorer of World Cup 2019. As a captain, his dream run with Mumbai Indians continued. Under his leadership, the franchise lifted the Indian Premier League 2019 trophy for the fourth time.
2. Mahendra Singh Dhoni: This man is ageing like a good old wine. The very fact that his teammates flock around him when the team is in distress, suggests that his stature has not waned even a bit since he had quit captaincy. His decision to serve with the Indian Army in Kashmir after the World Cup took up his inspiration quotient even more north.
1. Virat Kohli: If not Kohli. Who else? That will be one crisp, undisputed answer for every search to find out the world’s most influential cricketer and India’s most impactful athlete. The Indian skipper kept cricket statisticians on their toes and critics at bay as he scaled peak after peak in the last 12 months. From being the fastest to reach 10,000 ODI runs to leading India to its first ever Test series win in Australia, Kohli was perennially in the cross-hairs. Apart from actor Priyanka Chopra, Kohli was the only Indian to feature in the 2019 ‘Instagram’s Top-25’ rich list. His social media pages, too, serve as genuine inspiration to thousands of fitness freaks.