Will the city of Chennai, known for its fervent fandom and never-say-die spirit, remain loyal to CSK through the crisis that has befallen it, or will it find a way to survive by following individual performers in their new teams? This appears to be the cloud looming large over IPL-9. The two-year suspension of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals from the IPL owing to inaccuracies and unfair play is now old news, but die-hard fans are taking it rather badly. Adding salt to the wound is the announcement that Rajkot and Pune are the new franchises, and that MS Dhoni might be lapped up by the latter! No wonder the hashtag #NoCSKNoIPL has been trending non-stop with fans evincing the opinion that the IPL is dead without CSK, and they would even go to the extent of boycotting the games. (Just check out the outrage on the popular ‘Srini Mama’ parody fan page on Facebook).
Says Sonal Goyal, who is a ‘mad as a hatter’ fan, “Disappointment is an understatement when it comes to the shock that CSK fans are facing. To think that we will not have our own team to cheer is disturbing. The best fan base and team was undoubtedly Chennai. Chepauk will be a little grave, but it won’t be silent. Our players, who are our pride, have our backs.” Saravanan, another fervent follower (who even has a Facebook page dedicated to his obsession) says, “I will paint myself yellow no matter what.”
Another aficionado, thinks little of the boycott campaign. “The spirit of IPL will always linger. The stadiums will still see fans screaming. Just like with football clubs, it is not the team, but the person that you are attached to. With Dhoni having retired from Test cricket, we aren’t going to lose any opportunity to watch him play,” says Santosh Yogeshan.
It is not just Chennaiites who are wallowing in sorrow, for the likes of Dhoni, Suresh Raina, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have a pan-Indian fan base. Says Gunjan Sharma from Delhi, “It is normal for many Delhiites to be on CSK’s side even when they are playing against the home team, for one man’s name spells magic — Dhoni. It is sad that our favourite players have been caught up in the storm created by their management and so. Coping with the ban will be difficult; we will be patient, and support them irrespective of their teams.”
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