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In Kings versus Knights, a mini final between friends
Homes turn purple dugout, red barracks

The Punjab dugout’s quip: “We are glad (Robin) Uthappa has batted so well because no orange cap winner has ever lifted the IPL trophy.”

“Yes, just like Punjab, which has never lifted it either,” pat came the reply from the Kolkata Knight Riders camp.

While Shah Rukh Khan’s soldiers and Preity Zinta’s players battled it out in Bangalore, six close friends in Calcutta were split right down the middle in their loyalties for the IPL summit clash on Sunday.

Eden Gardens shifted to Lake Gardens where Auritro ‘Ruru’ Chowdhury, Arijit Sen and Rituparna Mukherjee turned the Chowdhury household into a purple dugout, while the other three — Ritwik Bhattacharya, Aanton Mukherjee and Shankar Narayan Saha — converted Ritwik’s Ekbalpore bungalow into a red barracks.

If their passion for quizzing united them in friendship, their love for quizzing trivia were the weapon of choice during the finals. “KKR had qualified as second in the league in 2012 and it has been the same this year,” smiled Arijit as he texted his rivals.

“KKR has not scored 200 even once this year,” replied Aanton moments after they were set a target of 200 by Punjab.

The friends had planned on watching the final together at Auritro’s home but the barrage of heated text exchanges and Facebook bickering made the two realise that they were better off watching the match at their respective camps.

If “Kolkata is my home and hence KKR my team,” is the side’s motto, “Where exactly is Calcutta in the KKR team?” has been the Punjab supporters’ refrain.

No sooner had IPL7 kicked off than a WhatsApp chat group called “IPL Adda” was formed which witnessed a salvo-a-minute throughout the season which culminated into angry emoticons and sarcasm laced LOLs when the two met each other during the qualifier on Wednesday and then at Chinnaswamy on Sunday.

“Given how former KKR Wriddhiman Saha demolished our bowling attack, thank god I didn’t have my Punjab supporting friends celebrating at the expense of my misery,” said Auritro, who had painted his bedroom purple days after the Knights had snatched a win at Chepauk to lift the IPL trophy in 2012.

If Auritro’s room hit a purple patch, then the Ekbalpore home had been decorated with bright red flags of Kings XI Punjab. There was one at the entrance, one in the hallway and one right below the television set.

“Our funda is simple. We have supported Punjab throughout because they have the most explosive line-up,” said Ritwik, a media executive.

To aid a million hands joined in prayer for the Knights is a face full of KKR fanatic Arijit’s beard, which, he believes has brought his team luck. Arijit Sen, 30, a tech entrepreneur, has not shaved since May 7, when KKR beat Delhi to embark upon their eight-match winning streak that powered them to the final.

“This is my Samson phase. Just like Samson’s strength was hidden in his hair, KKR’s form is attached to my beard,” said Arijit, who sported his lucky purple jersey, which he had also worn during the team’s last triumph two years ago.

As for Rituparna, the third of the purple trio, the occasion was all the more special because it was her birthday.

The friends had also gone to the Eden Gardens to watch the Knights take on Punjab during the match on Wednesday but true to their rivalry, sat in different ends of the ground. While the KKR trio watched the match from Block J, the Punjab boys sat right underneath SRK’s box in Block B.

Every ball that Saha dispatched past the ropes was greeted with deafening applause and wild waving of the flags.

The celebration continued through the innings break and well past the early dismissal of Uthappa.

“All four of Punjab’s overseas players are Australian and no one knows how to win finals better than the men from Down Under,” said Aanton, 33, as Mitchell Johnson sent the opener packing for five.

However, as sixes rained over Chinnaswamy Stadium with Pandey and Pathan leading the run chase, the Red Brigade fell silent and the purple side erupted in joy.

“We have yelled ourselves hoarse and all have a back ache as we have all lifted each other twice,” said a jubilant Arijit after the match.

As the two sides caught their breath after the edge of the seat encounter, the law of averages caught up with the IPL as Uthappa scored 660 runs, proudly wore the orange cap and went on to lift the glittering golden trophy.