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Barabati awaits SRK amid rain worry

Cuttack, May 10: Odisha is waiting impatiently to brush shoulders with Bollywood as Shah Rukh Khan and Preity Zinta are likely to come to town with their teams — Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab — set to clash against each other in tomorrow’s IPL match at Barabati Stadium.

Cricket enthusiasts are looking to have a glimpse of their favourite Bollywood actors in the stadium’s VIP gallery.

“We saw Preity Zinta from close quarters during Punjab’s last match against Chennai Super Kings, and we are waiting to see Shah Rukh this time,” said Amit Swain, a spectator.

A large number of fans are queuing up at the ticket counters, despite the threat of rain that looms over tomorrow’s match.

After today’s incessant drizzle, groundsmen at Barabati continued their efforts to dry a large portion of the ground, but the overcast conditions may play spoilsport. The sky remained cloudy with black clouds hovering overhead and continuous drizzle throughout the day that turned heavier at few times forcing the people to remain indoors.

The low-pressure induced rain brought relief to the people in many parts of the state after a spell of sweltering heat.

Met officials have predicted rain and thundershower over several parts of the state with some places getting heavy rainfall till May 13.

A senior official of the Odisha Cricket Association said adequate steps had been taken to protect the pitch that had been kept covered.

Soakers have also been used to dry up portions of the ground, said chief curator Pankaj Patnaik.

The Kolkata Knight Riders team, led by skipper Gautam Gambhir, took part in a practice session that missed cricket but saw some rain soccer that the players enjoyed, apart from warm up exercises at Barabati this evening.

All the players were brought to the stadium from Bhubaneswar amid tight security.

Over 400 runs were scored in the first match played between Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings on May 7 at this venue. Kings XI Punjab had won the match by 44 runs. The association had announced a cash award of Rs 2 lakh for the ground staff members for preparing a sporting wicket.

Sources said over 95 per cent of the tickets for the Sunday match had been sold.

“Most of the Kings XI players, including Glenn Maxwell and David Miller, are playing well, and we are looking forward to another high-scoring match at Barabati,” said Sushant Das, another spectator.

A Kings XI official said the decision to make Barabati their home ground had worked well so far with the first match seeing a big turnout of spectators.

The first home match for Kolkata Knight Riders, which was earlier scheduled to be played at Eden Gardens, has been shifted to Cuttack for security reasons.

Fans are excited with the development and are looking forward to the May 14 match between Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians.