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Thursday , April 4 , 2013
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Bat, ball and good ol’ Bolly
- Khan vs Kumar sideshow in KKR vs DD opener

KKR 1: Delhi Daredevils 0.
Baadshah 1: Khiladi 0

The scoreline for the two matches played out at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday night. One for the TV cameras and the other away from them. One a game of cricket. The other a game of Bollywood. That’s what the IPL is all about, isn’t it?

First the Baadshah, also the 12th man of the home team and defending champ.

Shah Rukh Khan first jumped on his feet. Then he got up on the railing. And then had people around him raise him up further.

His boys had started their 2013 campaign on an emphatic note. With eight balls to spare and six wickets in hand, they thumped Delhi.

And then there was the Khiladi.

Who? Where? What?

Akshay Kumar was the outsider on Shah Rukh Khan’s turf. So much so that the SET Max cameras did not capture the Khiladi even once. They were apparently too busy capturing the Baadshah and his boys to bother about Akshay, Imran Khan and Sonakshi Sinha, camping in KKR country to promote their August release, Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai... Again.

But aren’t Khiladi Kumar and Baadshah Khan on cordial-bordering-on-friendly terms? Not on the cold-shoulder evidence of what played out in the air-conditioned boxes at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday night.

Akshay spent more than two hours watching the KKR vs Delhi Daredevils match from a box, hopping across briefly to the DD enclosure and even popping out to wave to his fans in a five-minute frenzy that shifted crowd — but not TV camera — focus from the Khan to the Kumar, from Gautam Gambhir to Imran Khan (Aamir Khan’s nephew, of course) and from Deepika Padukone to Sonakshi Sinha (a Salman Khan loyalist, dare we say).

But there was no Khan-Kumar interaction. No hugs, no high-fives, not a casual wave, not even an acknowledgement. Why?

Akshay’s Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai… Again releases on the same day as SRK-Deepika’s Chennai Express. August 8.

And that is blasphemy in the Baadshah’s book of Bollywood releases.

When Metro asked Akshay about all this, he chose to play it with a straight bat: “I wanted to watch the first IPL match of the season and that’s why I am here. No one asked me to come and no one asked me not to.”

And the SET Max cameras made sure that he remained the Invisible One.

From the time word filtered out that Team Akshay would be at the first IPL match of the season to kick off the promotions of their August 8 release, there was a buzz about how the KKR boss wasn’t keen on playing a good Bengali host and rolling out the red carpet.

SRK does not like competing with any other biggie on release day. And the Rohit Shetty film starring him and Deepika will have to take on the Milan Luthria sequel to 2010’s super-successful Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai.

But Akshay and his co-stars decided to land up at Eden anyway, booking a box for themselves.

On the pitch, of course, it was all about Khan and his Knights.

After Gambhir won the toss and chose to chase, it was a dream start for KKR — and dream start for IPL-6 — when Brett Lee’s very first delivery sent the off stump rolling on the turf sending back Unmukt Chand and throwing the almost-packed stadium into an instant tizzy.

SRK wasn’t around to see that. He appeared after the end of two overs in a white tee with a KKR purple patch around the shoulders.

In that same corner of the B1 hospitality box, he surrounded himself with the kids’ sena he brings down from Mumbai, led by son Aryan and daughter Suhana.

The team’s boss looked relaxed, a far cry from his rosary-gripping, nail-chewing, all-sulking avatar of some previous IPL editions. At one point of time he went full bhangra to Gangnam Style!

SRK had to wait for four more overs for his maiden moment of celebration this year when Sunil Narine had David Warner caught at slip. But what really got SRK going — from ceetee to taali to waving the new KKR flag screaming “Korbo Lorbo Jeetbo” — was the brilliant low catch by Laxmi Ratan Shukla at deep point to send Manprit Juneja packing. And from then it was all KKR and their cheerleaders, led by the 12th Knight.

Before the night was done, Shah Rukh the superstar was back in action with his victory lap ritual, this time with Deepika and daughter Suhana in tow, waving kisses galore and promising many more victories this season and perhaps not letting Calcutta part with the IPL trophy. Well, tournament abhi baaki hai, Boss Khan.

Co-owner Juhi Chawla sure is taking one win at a time. “I came here straight from the Kalighat temple. I am very happy and very relieved! We are off to a good start and I just wish our team maintains this and sails through the IPL,” she smiled.

If the Knights do sail though, SRK will hit a precarious new high. “I will do a double somersault from above the railings (of Eden) if KKR wins the IPL this year,” promised the 12th man.