A 70,000-strong battalion of fans cheering the Kolkata Knight Riders to a famous victory is a spectacle. Being part of it is an experience.
Metro captures the sights and sounds that the live telecast missed at Fort William’s next-door neighbour, KKR’s very own fortress that no rival team could breach this IPL.
Run a round
Cricketers apparently aren’t the only ones who warm up with a few rounds of the ground before the start of a match. The cops do the same.
City police commissioner Surajit Kar Purkayastha and a team of IPS officers were spotted on Wednesday afternoon covering the entire circumference of the Eden Gardens half an hour before the first ball was bowled.
Were they burning calories? No, just following the usual match-day drill for an officer on duty at Eden.
The contingent of senior cops did a round of the field and criss-crossed the stands as part of a pre-match recce to check whether every gap in security had been plugged.
The police chief, followed by deputy commissioner (south) Murli Dhar, crossed over from one block to another, ran their eyes through the fans still trooping in and often stopped to check whether the officers were alert.
|Colour purple outside Eden on Wednesday. Those who turned up in impartial shades flashed the victory sign for KKR
The loudest cheers during the announcement of the Knights’ playing XI in all previous matches were for spin doctor Sunil Narine. On Wednesday, as the team was announced one by one along with their photographs on the giant screen, the name “Yusuf Pathan” sent the decibel level shooting through the Eden roof.
Narine did get the usual applause but Wednesday’s duel had a new winner: SRK’s “only PATHAN”.
Another unprecedented moment occurred when the countdown to the match began. While an obliging Eden usually shouts from 10 to 0 in tandem with the digits flashing on the big screen, on Wednesday the coliseum kept roaring K...K...R throughout.
So much for the IPL organisers’ attempt to come up with “neutral” venues.
Wriddhi the diligent
The lone cricketer from Bengal in the two playing XIs, Wriddhiman Saha, may have been playing for the wrong team but was determined to make all the right moves.
Around 10 minutes prior to the start of play, the entire Punjab squad except Saha had gathered for a team photograph. Saha chose to practise some catching with coach Sanjay Bangar. It was only after a shout from teammates that Saha jogged towards them for the photo-op.
“Onek hoyechhe, ebaar thaam (enough, stop now)!” pat came a quip from the stands.
|The rainbow tops look neutral but these fans are celebrating a Knight victory at Eden. Pictures by Bishwarup Dutta & Bibhash Lodh
Pitbull & pitter-patter
The mother of all coincidences. At the end of the 14th over, Pitbull’s hit number Let it rain over me blasted through the loudspeakers but not everyone was dancing. After a washed-out Tuesday and a cloudy Wednesday, many in the stands seemed surprised at the choice of song. “Lagta hain ye DJ aaj bhi match cancel karwayega (Looks like the DJ will get today’s match cancelled as well),” a young spectator agonised.
Four balls later, after 15.4 overs had been bowled, the drizzle turned into steady rain and the covers had to be brought on. Fortunately for the DJ, not for long.
Llong and short of it
Nigel Llong, one of the umpires, was still a Llong way from redeeming himself at the Eden Gardens when he walked into the ground on Wednesday. The umpire had been at the receiving end of Eden’s choicest quips last November after he incorrectly adjudged Sachin Tendulkar out on the second day of his penultimate Test.
“Seems like this is going to be Nigel Llong’s farewell Test as well!” was the yell of exasperation on November 8.
On Wednesday, one spectator screamed: “Tui abaar eshechish? Shei din-er bhool-er jonyo aaj jeno shoddh korish (You’ve come again? Today you better compensate for the mistake you made that day).”
Eden’s new anthem
While “Korbo Lorbo Jeetbo” blared from the loudspeakers every time a KKR player blasted one past the ropes or picked up a wicket, the stands had found a new anthem to roar.
After a few sporadic posters of “Ab ki baar, KKR” popped up for the first time across the blocks during the Kolkata versus Chennai match last Tuesday, the phrase caught on during the next two and turned into a chant by Wednesday. Every time nervous first half during Punjab’s innings when they dispatched a few into the stands, every wicket was greeted with lusty cheers of, “Ab ki baar, K..K..R.”
“If that phrase could get Modi to the winner’s throne, then we sincerely hope that it will also have the same effect on KKR,” said Mossadiq Mullick who had turned up with a poster saying, “Punjab ki hogi haar, ab ki baar KKR,”.
Perhaps the most enduring memory of Eden Gardens is the stadium bathed in torches made from newspapers after Sachin Tendulkar won India a place in the 1992 Hero Cup final with the ball in the last over. While that tradition died out in the 2000s after a ban on lighters and matchsticks, it reincarnated itself in a modern avatar on Wednesday.
As KKR confirmed their place in the finals, about 70,000 flashbulbs of cell phone camera’s went click-click almost simultaneously to capture the victorious moment. Eden was covered in little flashes of white as the home team and then Shah Rukh Khan went on a victory lap.