The Telegraph
Wednesday , May 30 , 2012
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‘Knights floored by king’s welcome’

On Sunday night, we all partied at the Taj Coromandel all night and when I left at 6am to take my flight to Calcutta, the revelry was still on!

After landing in the city, I rushed to the Writers’ Buildings and met the chief minister, her ministers as well as the police commissioner to help chalk out Tuesday’s plans. There was just so much to do.

Which is why I think the celebrations that happened at the Eden Gardens were outstanding, considering that the actual preparations started only around 2pm on Monday. What our government pulled off in less than 24 hours was just remarkable.

Three other cities have won the IPL Cup before us — Jaipur, Hyderabad and Chennai — but nobody had this kind of a king’s welcome, complete with a parade on an open trailer and a grand felicitation before such a massive crowd!

This kind of a welcome happens only in football — like when Manchester City won the EPL or when Chelsea won the Champions League recently. Tuesday’s reception is comparable only with the grand welcome the Indian team got after they won the T20 World Cup in 2007 and rode in style to Wankhede from Mumbai airport.

The best thing about the Eden programme was that it was so spontaneous — how else could you have Shah Rukh Khan dancing with the chief minister on one side and the governor on the other?!

And what a humble lady Mamata Banerjee is! When the team arrived at Writers’ before going to Eden, she was waiting for them on the road.

There was a small felicitation and when the players got back into the bus for the short journey to the Eden, they found that someone had very thoughtfully put little packets of snacks and water for each one of them, including the fish fry that Shah Rukh had enjoyed so much earlier!

Eden was a full house and more — that’s a 100,000 people! You don’t get that kind of a crowd even on a match day. No wonder Trevor Bayliss, our coach, said he didn’t think that there were so many people in the whole of Australia! The players and other members of KKR were completely overwhelmed.

After the event, as he waited for the crowds to disperse, Shah Rukh chatted with Mamata Banerjee, Jagmohan Dalmiya and some of us. Everyone spoke about how such a turnout was possible only in Calcutta. Shah Rukh said he always knew that the fans in Calcutta were extremely passionate.

On a personal note, being involved with KKR for the past five years, through all the ups and downs, this was a very fulfilling and emotional experience for me as well as my team at Gameplan Sports.