PRAIRIE VIEW, Texas — A typical Sunday in Texas consists of two things; church and football, and not always in that order. But in this community northwest of Houston, known for its agricultural roots and the historically black college that carries its name, the gridiron now has some competition.

For hours each Sunday, four circular grassy fields on the side of U.S. Route 290 play host to dozens of men wielding flat-faced wooden bats. Most are immigrants whose conversations are a blend of English, Urdu and Hindi, and terms that many outsiders might find just as foreign – wickets, stumps and bails.

The game they play is cricket, and its emergence here reflects the incredible diversity of the nation’s fourth-largest city and its sprawling reach. Prairie View, situated about 45 miles from downtown Houston, might seem an unlikely place for an international cricket destination, but Houston businessman Tanweer Ahmed is looking to change that.

Ahmed is turning an 86-acre lot into a massive sports complex with seven cricket fields, a youth academy and a stadium big enough to host professional teams.

“Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world after soccer, and the U.S. is missing out on that part of the world,” he said. “But the U.S. has huge potential.”

Over the past several decades, Houston’s growing immigrant population has profoundly changed the local culture. Hispanics now represent the largest racial or ethnic group, but the Asian population is the fastest growing. There are thriving Vietnamese, Indian and Pakistani communities, and the metropolitan area is home to arguably the best curries, kebabs and nihari in the South. The city is dotted with halal butchers and international grocery stores that sell South Asian staples such as chickpea flour.

And socially, it’s just as common to hear immigrants and the children of immigrants talk about Virat Kohli or Jasprit Bumrah – both men are professional cricket players in India – as it is to hear others talk about quarterback Tom Brady. In Ahmed’s view, that makes the area perfect for cricket.

The first four fields in Ahmed’s complex opened in early September, and the inaugural games involved half a dozen teams, which played for hours despite the heat, humidity and mud from days of rain. With every bowl – a running, full-circle windup pitch – and every “thwack” of the ball – a different sound from baseball, given a batsman’s flat-fronted blade – shouts of “oy, oy, oy!” rang out.

Cricket has long failed to capture much interest in this country, but that’s changing, in large part because of the nation’s changing demographics.

“What is the fastest growing sport in the United States?” George B. Kirsch, professor emeritus at Manhattan College, wrote in the Journal of Sport History in 2016. “Surprisingly, with the possible exception of lacrosse, the answer is cricket.”

Many immigrants, especially those from South Asia and the Caribbean, have found that it gives them a way to connect.

Saad Motiwala, a 27-year-old Pakistani immigrant on the field during that first Sunday in Prairie View, appreciates the polyglot nature of the sport and the different cultures and communities it brings together.

“Playing cricket allows you to meet people you’d never meet otherwise,” said Motiwala, who works at a BMW dealership and plays with Ahmed on the Gaous Azam Cricket Club.

The sport is already so popular in the area that more people want to join the 31-team Houston Cricket League than the available fields can accommodate.

In the month since the complex hosted its first games, a parking lot has been paved, the pavilions have been covered and signs have gone up. Ahmed plans to open a cricket academy there next May where local children can learn the game and, he hopes, become lifelong fans. For now, Ahmed is funding the bulk of the project himself and already has spent several million dollars, but he’s seeking community donations to complete and help maintain the future complex for years to come.

His ultimate goal is a stadium that could hold up to 50,000 fans.