| Suresh Raina, in Ranchi |
Ranchi: What’s common between Chennai Express and the Chennai Super Kings? Apart from the word Chennai, both are basically one-man shows. While it’s Shah Rukh Khan all the way in the Bollywood blockbuster, it’s Mahendra Singh Dhoni who drives the immensely successful IPL team.
And of course, both take you for a joyride filled with unbridled entertainment after you have bought yourself a ticket.
Saturday promises a weekend party at the JSCA International Stadium when the Super Kings clash with Brisbane Heat in a Group B match of the CLT20. At least the fans at the Jharkhand capital are hoping so.
Call it a coincidence or the ill-effects of commercialisation of the game, many a fan who witnessed the Dhoni dhamaka in Ranchi against the Sunrisers Hyderabad on Thursday night, perhaps had only one thing to say: It’s 100 per cent paisa vasool. Isn’t that something we usually hear from Shah Rukh fans when they leave the cinema hall?
It’s a fact that T20 is beyond cricket. Good or bad, right or wrong is a topic of debate. But with DJs playing chartbusters at every over-break, mock flames welcoming every boundary, it’s not cricket… It’s a carnival out there. And Dhoni, like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, sways the crowd to his tune when on song.
People in Ranchi, from the teen-aged room service boy at the hotel to the fifty-plus auto-rickshaw driver, are hungry for tickets for Saturday’s match. But most of them are not Super Kings’ fans. They are Dhoni loyalists and expect their hero to do the unthinkable once again.
It’s futile to talk about cricket specific stuff that surrounds the match, because everything sounds too obvious. The Super Kings are the superior team by miles and if they don’t succumb to complacency, Brisbane would surely feel the heat to match up to them. While Dhoni’s team are just a step away from securing a semi-final berth, the Australians are on the verge of being knocked out on Saturday itself if they lose. It’s an unequal battle on cricketing terms.
The difference between the two teams’ position was evident on Friday. While the Brisbane players sweated it out for hours at the stadium, Dhoni, the Super Kings captain, was busy playing a friendly soccer match at Silli, about 55kms from Ranchi. So while Brisbane’s Ben Cutting said that they are working on a specific plan on how to handle the Dhoni factor, the Indian captain enthralled locals by scoring a goal in the friendly.
Bowling, however, remains an area of concern for the Super Kings as they have conceded more than 180 runs in both the matches they have played so far. So even though the strongest names in the Brisbane batting line-up – James Hopes and Joe Burns – would hardly ring a bell in the layman’s mind, Dhoni, the shrewd captain, will be on guard on Saturday.
But let’s not harp on the dry cricketing facts. Let’s celebrate the man who can hit five sixes in an over as easily as he can take five singles. Brace yourselves for another possible super show… Ready, steady, po…