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regular-article-logo Sunday, 16 June 2024

Indian Premier League: Not toppers Knights, Virat's RCB raise the heat in Ahmedabad  

Considering how well Virat Kohli and captain Faf du Plessis have guided the team in their six successive victories, RCB drawing a lot of interest is quite expected

Sayak Banerjee Ahmedabad Published 21.05.24, 10:22 AM
The Narendra Modi Stadium, the setting for IPL 2024’s Qualifier 1, between Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad on Tuesday.

The Narendra Modi Stadium, the setting for IPL 2024’s Qualifier 1, between Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad on Tuesday. PTI

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have been the most consistent of all the teams in this IPL, finishing the league phase as toppers. But when it comes to picking the flavour of the ongoing season, the vote of the majority seems to be for Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) because of their spectacular comeback to make the playoffs.

Around a kilometre or two leading to the Narendra Modi Stadium which hosts Qualifier 1 and Eliminator in the playoffs on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, one comes across a flex banner featuring Gujarat Titans skipper Shubman Gill and a few of his teammates with “Aava de” (Bring it on) inscribed on it. Gill and Co. couldn’t quite bring it on though, yet, an element of excitement over these two playoffs games does exist. And for that, a fair amount of credit goes to RCB.

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“Over the last couple of days, the queue at the box office (centre for collecting booked tickets) here was bigger particularly for the Eliminator (which will have Rajasthan Royals taking on RCB on Wednesday). Today though, the queue for tomorrow (Tuesday)’s KKR-Sunrisers Hyderabad Qualifier 1 also has been quite long.

“The (online) ticket sales began from May 14 and those for the Royals-RCB game got sold out fast. At the moment, there are hardly any tickets available (for both the games). So, you should be seeing a good turnout on each of the two days despite the Gujarat Titans’ absence,” an insider in the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) said on Monday.

Considering how well Virat Kohli and captain Faf du Plessis have guided the team in their six successive victories, RCB drawing a lot of interest is quite expected. And like it or not, even if Kohli is struggling to perform, his very presence will certainly draw crowds.

It thus won’t be too unfair to say that RCB have taken at least a little bit of focus away from table-toppers Knight Riders. A proof of that is the fact that very few KKR jerseys have been sold so far at the Motera.

“The RCB jerseys are being bought mostly. The ones having Virat Kohli’s name on them are priced at 300, and people are still buying them in good numbers,” said Vilas Pawar, one of the jersey sellers who arrived all the way from Maharashtra’s Solapur early morning on Monday and even in this killing heat, wasted no time to straightaway take his position just outside the Motera premises.

Heatwave hurdle

The ones working at the ticket-booking office at the Motera Stadium had little time to relax as people turned up in good numbers as early as 10 in the morning, braving a 44-degree Celsius temperature. The GCA too on its part is doing everything possible to look after the spectators in this furnace-like condition.

The amphitheatre-like Motera Stadium has a seating capacity of 1,32,000.

“We are hopeful of a full house during both these matches. Tomorrow (Tuesday) especially, the temperature could well be over 44 degrees. So, keeping these things in mind, we are taking certain measures to look after the spectators,” GCA secretary Anil Patel told The Telegraph.

“Two temporary hospitals have been set up at the venue, while there will also be eight extra ambulances in case of an emergency. Besides, medical units will be there at the VIP enclosures as well as at the general stands. Powder packets will also be given free to the spectators.

“In view of the heatwave in the city, we had to be ready with these measures,” Patel said.

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