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regular-article-logo Friday, 24 May 2024

Boundaries or not, Eden boundless in love for King

As soon as the former India and RCB captain stepped on to the field for his team’s brief warm-up session before the toss, the crowd erupted.

Sayak Banerjee Calcutta Published 26.05.22, 01:35 AM
Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli File Photo

The “RCB, RCB” chants had filled up the air at Eden Gardens even during Tuesday’s Qualifier I, which featured Gujarat Titans and Rajasthan Royals. On Wednesday, when the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) took the field in their Eliminator clash against Lucknow Super Giants, the ambience turned magical at the iconic venue.

More than an hour before the match-start time, fans assembled in big numbers at the Maidan, sporting RCB jerseys with “Virat” etched on them. Such was the craze for Wednesday’s game that even complimentary tickets, it was learnt, were sold in the black market at Rs 800 and more.

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And as soon as the former India and RCB captain, the obvious crowd favourite, stepped on to the field for his team’s brief warm-up session before the toss, the Eden erupted.

For Virat Kohli, no matter what kind of a form he is in, fans hardly bother.

The roar from the 65,000-plus turnout was deafening, particularly when he hit those two boundaries in his 25-run knock. But there were loud cheers even for the singles that Kohli took.

The Lucknow franchise, too, had a little bit of Calcutta connection in the form of mentor Gautam Gambhir, who’s a former Kolkata Knight Riders captain and the only man under whom the Knights have won the IPL (in 2012 and 2014).

Lucknow’s team owner, Sanjiv Goenka, too, is a resident of the city. Lucknow team jerseys were being given away for free before the start of the game.

Yet, a vast majority of the voices at the Eden rooted for Kohli’s RCB. In fact, the support for RCB didn’t reduce one bit even after Kohli’s dismissal in the game’s ninth over.

The cheers got louder with each boundary that centurion Rajat Patidar and Dinesh Karthik hammered during their unbroken 92-run stand in the first half of the game. Thereafter, with the fall of every Lucknow wicket, the fans’ joy knew no bounds.

“Obviously, with Kohli there, you will have a choc-a-bloc Eden in most cases and of course, the team he represents will get maximum support,” Bengal head coach Arun Lal, who was present at the game with some of his family members, said.

That’s the kind of impact a stalwart like Kohli or a Mahendra Singh Dhoni is capable of having. Runs or no runs.

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