KKR & Eden hit purple patch - Knights rise to the top as calcutta roars from the stands

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  • Published 18.04.11

“Orey Warne, taratari match herey palaa, Hurley boudi opekkha korchhe!”

The Eden Gardens was back in full form on Sunday for Kolkata Knight Riders vs Rajasthan Royals — with familiar hum (filled nearly to its capacity of 64,000) and humour (exhorting Shane Warne to beat a hasty retreat into Liz Hurley’s arms).

As the Eden turned into a sea of heads for the first time since its World Cup makeover and lent voice to Shah Rukh Khan’s team, Sourav Ganguly’s successor routed Shilpa Shetty’s army for the second time in three days.

That the crowd count on Sunday would comfortably cross that for the first home match of the Knights (on April 11) was evident long before the spectators had taken their bucket seats. There was the familiar cloud of dust raised by thousands of Eden-bound feet on the greens in front of the CAB — a sight last seen on Christmas-eve 2009, when Team India had taken on Sri Lanka.

The spruce-up had shrunk the ground by 25,000 seats but last Monday, Calcutta did not show up at the Eden in numbers to see KKR notch up its first win of the season.

Two resounding victories later, doubts about the team had been put to rest and the Eden was ready with a full-throated roar when Gautam Gambhir went out for the toss with Shane Warne.

The cheering started as soon as the former Delhi Daredevils skipper chose to bowl. The dancing started when Laxmipathi Balaji turned back the clock to the 2004 Pakistan tour of Team India to castle man-in-form Shane Watson with a leg cutter in the fourth over.

The wickets continued to tumble and the crowd continued to roar. “You cannot help thinking that the crowd going berserk in the stands every time a wicket falls gives the boys in the middle an edge. And that makes us scream even more,” said Dwaita Sinha, 29, a lecturer at Ramakrishna Sarada Mission College who had come to watch the match with her advocate husband Arkadeb.

Youngsters in Block J were trying to start a Mexican wave from the start of the match but it was being cut short every time by the fall of a wicket or a loud appeal. Before the start of the 14th over of the Royals’ innings, they finally got a proper wave going. It barely completed two laps before Balaji pegged back Ajinkya Rahane’s middle stump.

That Eden had found its voice in the post-Sourav era was evident from the trademark wit. From a jibe at Shane Warne to a jab at Ross Taylor, it was a live laughter challenge show on Sunday night.

The high energy — and decibel — party in the stands did not last as long as it could have because the 40-over match ended in over 30, with KKR making short work of the 82-run target.

But the message from the Calcutta cricket fan was loud and clear: with KKR rising to the top of the charts, in more ways than ones, it was time for the Eden to bury “ghosts from the past” — Shah Rukh Khan’s words, not ours — and move on to hail new heroes.

Has KKR managed to win over Calcutta with its cricket? Tell ttmetro@abpmail.com