|(From top) IPL 2014 is colours all the way as a Chennai Super Kings fan sports psychedelic headgear and face tattoo outside the JSCA International Stadium Complex in Dhurwa, Ranchi, on Friday evening ahead of the home team’s match with Kolkata Knight Riders. A PYT plays cheerleader for MS Dhoni and his boys, while a gang of elated cricket buffs celebrates IPL’s homecoming from Abu Dhabi. Pictures by Prashant Mitra
Chennai Super Kings (CSK) skipper M.S. Dhoni: “Nothing beats the feeling of being home.” Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) skipper Gautam Gambhir: “Nothing can compare with the feeling of being a parent.”
As emotions welled at the JSCA stadium complex in Ranchi minutes before the start of the first IPL-7 match in its India leg on Friday, thanks to “our boy Mahi” and new dad Gauti — he and wife Natasha became proud parents of a baby girl on Thursday — it seems the rain god caught the spirit.
Some 10 minutes after CSK won the toss at 7.30pm and Dhoni elected to bat, the Ranchi skyline burst into rain.
Steady showers delayed the game by nearly two hours.
At 9.15pm, a field inspection report gave the go-ahead for the match at 9.40pm. Both CSK and KKR started playing a truncated version of 17 overs each at the delayed hour.
It seems that Dhoni had some indication that weather was dicey.
“It’s untimely rainy conditions in Ranchi. But after all, this city has always been so,” the skipper reasoned behind his decision to bat first.
KKR skipper Gambhir, who as newbie dad could not stop beaming, only hoped that they would play better cricket this time.
“It (the JSCA stadium) was our home ground last year so we know a bit about local conditions. The key will be to not to repeat mistakes, which made us lose earlier games this season,” he said.
As it rained, the 20,000-plus audience, who had been hoping to catch some thunder on the pitch, craned their necks to see lightning zigzag over the stadium.
“No! The last time also it rained during the India-Australia match,” a 10-year-old child rued to his dad at tier 4, south pavilion.
But it was clear that most people were willing to “wet” it out. After all, it was the question of the honour of CSK — and its front man Dhoni.
Yellow fever was evident across the stadium with face paint, wigs, tee shirts and placards. And then, came the deafening cheers all around.
“We were in the mood to celebrate a CSK win, but let us see, picture abhi baaki hai” smiled Sangita Mishra, a homemaker sitting put with her husband Kulwant.
JSCA had hosted IPL-6 matches last year as well, with KKR hyping Ranchi as its second home ground owing to its proximity to Calcutta. Unfortunately, KKR failed to garner local support as Chris Gayle (RCB) and Yuvi (PW) robbed the so-called home team of its crowd support.
Did you keep waiting at JSCA grounds despite the rain?