Shah Rukh Khan stepped into the Eden green and jumped onto Yusuf Pathan moments after the Knights blazed into the IPL final. Legs around Pathan’s waist, Shah Rukh threw himself backwards in joy and kept falling until someone extended a hand and broke the fall. In one swift move, he was back straight. The Shah Rukh show had just begun. Pictures by Rashbehari Das
Calcutta, May 28: As a Don, Shah Rukh Khan has pulled off what would be impossible for lesser men.
In his avatar as principal owner of the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Shah Rukh has seen his franchise put him in the shade!
One just can’t put it any other way.
An absolutely incredible three weeks have seen KKR, astutely captained by the intense Gautam Gambhir, chalk up a record-creating eight wins in succession and rocket into the IPL VII final, in Bangalore.
So incredible that Shah Rukh’s own Red Chillies Entertainment would probably be tempted to hire a scriptwriter and launch a film inspired by KKR’s clawback.
That KKR lost four matches on the trot before the sequence of wins underlines the enormity of what has been achieved.
The upswing almost coincided with the decision to promote Orange Cap-holder Robin Uthappa to open with Gambhir.
Often, one performance or one move changes the script dramatically. Elevating Uthappa and backing Yusuf Pathan to play with freedom (72 off 22 balls against the Sunrisers Hyderabad) are perfect fits.
Both Gambhir and Uthappa have, incidentally, made India comebacks during the day. A double delight for men wanting to and making a difference.
The opponent for Sunday won’t be known till Friday, but be it Kings XI Punjab (hammered in Qualifier 1, at the Eden) or the Chennai Super Kings, they’ll be more than wary.
Having won the fifth edition, KKR know what it takes to deliver on the biggest stage. While Kings XI have never made the final, the Super Kings have been champions twice.
Even if the batting didn’t exactly look intimidating, after the auction in February, nobody doubted that KKR possessed a most potent attack.
Morne Morkel and Umesh Yadav among quicks; Sunil Narine and Shakib-al Hasan among spinners. Not to forget Piyush Chawla, who has left an impression every time he’s been fielded.
In other words, quality variety to cripple/test the best.
Narine’s in his third season, but continues to mesmerise. To the extent that opponents keep his four overs out of the scoring equation.
That’s a huge compliment to the unassuming Trinidadian.
Actually, KKR haven’t depended either only on one batsman or one bowler, which has been a significant feature of their campaign.
The management has made smart moves off the field as well. Like securing the services of Mike Horn, inarguably the numero uno modern-day explorer.
Physical trainer Adrian le Roux made the suggestion, but credit to the KKR management for taking it on board.
Horn, it may be recalled, worked with Team India when we won the World Cup in 2011. Once the IPL gets over, he’ll be off to Brazil, motivating Germany.
Of late, Shah Rukh’s priority has been Happy New Year, set for a Diwali release. The rush to complete its shooting has kept him away from most of KKR’s matches, but he was at his “beloved” Eden.
Not from the first ball, but from pretty early in KKR’s innings.
The state’s chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, also put in an appearance. According to Shah Rukh’s posts on social media, he tucked into fish fry with “MamataDi”.
It couldn’t be confirmed if Shah Rukh hugged Mamata, but they’re known to admire each other.
Shah Rukh did, of course, hug Preity Zinta much to the joy of shutterbugs.
Consummate showman that he is, Shah Rukh completed a lap of honour, following the lead taken by Gambhir and his men.
Trust Shah Rukh and his Knights to party long into the night, before re-focusing on the one match which means the world now.
As Horn told The Telegraph: “The journey isn’t complete.”