Chennai is in the grip of Yellow Fever again. It’s CSK time and with a vengeance as the favourite team of the city have come back as the IPL champions. They had been unfairly driven out last time by Cauvery protesters who picked on cricket for no reason at all. Their home season cancelled, CSK travelled like good soldiers and came back home clutching the trophy at the end of Season -11.
Winning the trophy was extremely special last season as the team had been banned for the previous two seasons, paying the price for coming into contact with one of those forgotten betting scandals. MSD and his troops put 2013 and the past behind in one of the finest performances in a confusing comeback season when their own Chennaiites, but only of the political kind, turned against them and would not let them play in the city.
There was ample proof of how revered the Men in Yellow really are in Chennai as 12,000 fans turned up just to watch a team practice session on Sunday at the CSK home ground of Chepauk. This was sporting fanaticism at its best even if T20 is exactly the type of cricket that the traditionalists would sneer at. For a T20 practice session to bring so many loyalists to the ground was testament to the phenomenon of sporting tribal loyalties at its best.
If ever there was a throne to offer, MSD would have been given the post of the King of Chennai. There was a fan who came on to the field to greet him on Sunday even as shouts of “Dhoni, Dhoni” rent the air right through the practice session. To his credit Dhoni, who played hide and seek with the fan for a while, stretched out his right hand. Having shared the priceless handshake moment with the CSK supremo, the fan was happy to run back to where he came from.
There was great entertainment of the T20 kind for the fans as the batsmen kept clearing the boundary for the six hits that bring the most popular kind of excitement in the stands. The IPL opener will be at Chepauk and nothing could stop the schedule this time round. The fans seem doubly excited at the prospect of a real home season. Ironically, the Cauvery protesters saw a deluge swamping their favourite river in last year’s monsoons and much water flowed into the Bay of Bengal.
CSK can look forward to an uninterrupted home season. Any fan who can get his hand on a ticket will probably feel like a millionaire. There is a huge scramble even as tickets are in scarce supply. The IPL committee and the BCCI have taken away their share for the opener leaving very few tickets for the pubic to get hold of save on the ticketing app Bookmyshow who are the official agents for the CSK games.
Come March 23 and the IPL begins with a match between CSK and the Royal Challengers, Bangalore pitting the champions against the eternal bridesmaids....