|Yusuf Pathan and Piyush Chawla, at the Eden, on Tuesday. A Telegraph picture
Calcutta: With popular, foot-tapping numbers for company, Eden Gardens, on Tuesday, was reverberating in a joyous rhythm. The atmosphere was electrifying since the morning itself.
Thousands inside the stadium, and more waiting outside, wanted a glimpse of Shah Rukh Khan and his Knights, who have done their team as well as the city proud, twice in three years.
For the majority, the patient wait was to watch their favourite Shah Rukh in front of their eyes. But when the Knights took the field, the crowd simply broke into spontaneous applause.
Captain Gautam Gambhir, Yusuf Pathan, Manish Pandey… Loud cheers were reserved for each and every Knight. Of course, such a grand celebration wasn’t the first one for Gambhir and Yusuf, who had a similar experience two years back. But for someone like Piyush Chawla, who wasn’t a part of the victorious Knights in 2012, it was truly an experience to remember.
“To be honest, I haven’t seen such celebrations. This is the first time I’m experiencing such an occasion. Of course, there were celebrations when we won the World Cup in 2011. But this is simply amazing… Oh! What an atmosphere!” Piyush remarked.
Even though he was there during the jubilation of 2012, the Eden crowd and its atmosphere continues to mesmerise Yusuf. “Simply amazing… Calcutta crowd continues to mesmerise us,” he said.
Robin Uthappa, though, wasn’t too surprised with what he saw. “We’re here in Calcutta. So, honestly, I had expected that celebrations would be like this… No wonder I will savour this great occasion…” said the Orange Cap winner, who was a bit late to join the programme.
Manish Pandey, the hero of the final, too didn’t forget to thank the Eden crowd for its overwhelming and unconditional support for the Knight Riders.
“This is not the first time I’m experiencing this kind of a felicitation programme. Back in 2008, I got a somewhat similar kind of reception in Bangalore after we won under-19 World Cup.
“But all said and done, the Eden crowd is the best. They have been with us even when we went through difficult times. The support we get here is absolutely incredible.
“My message to all the fans here is ‘Please keep on supporting us, because your support is crucial to our success. With your support, we can replicate this feat next year as well’,” Manish said.
The ones who were there during the 2012 triumph seemed a bit nostalgic. “We had celebrated the same way in 2012. It was a full house (at the Eden) then as well,” said Manoj Tiwary, who’s now part of the Delhi DareDevils.
According to Manoj, it was Knights’ bowlers who made the difference. “Look, the team that won in 2012 was a pretty formidable one. But on this occasion, their bowling was stronger.
“The induction of the likes of Morne Morkel and Piyush, with Sunil Narine already there, added to the strength of their bowling. But I would’ve been happier had the Bengal boys — Veer Pratap (Singh) and Sayan (Sekhar Mondal) — played two or three matches,” he commented.
“I wouldn’t want to compare the two teams. The one that won in 2012 was no less strong than the present. We were the deserving champions in 2012 and this year too, the Knights deserved to be the winners ,” opined Laxmi Ratan Shukla.