In front of full house at Chepauk, a typical Chennai rhythm plays out

It is a familiar sight at the MA Chidambaram Stadium as Jadeja does it for two months a year in a sea of yellow during the Indian Premier League.

Published: 23rd March 2023 08:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd March 2023 08:21 AM   |  A+A-

Fans enjoy the match at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Wednesday | ashwin prasath

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Ravindra Jadeja is at the top of his mark, ready to bowl from the Pattabhiraman Gate End. A near-packed Chepauk crowd is cheering him on. After the left-arm spinner walks in and pitches the ball on the middle-and-off stump line in the high-90kphs, it straightens before the batter defends it. It is a familiar sight at the MA Chidambaram Stadium as Jadeja does it for two months a year in a sea of yellow during the Indian Premier League.

This time, it was a sea of blue. The renovated Chepauk stadium is filled, in a literal sense, to its capacity.
The fans started coming in at least two hours before the start of the match on a hot Wednesday afternoon. For them, the scorching Sun wasn’t relevant. They were here to cheer on the Men in Blue, who were playing in a white-ball game at this venue for the first time since December 2019.

Even if the heat and humidity were bothering them, the fans who were entering from the gates on the Victoria Hostel Road were greeted with the welcome sight of a massive mural featuring the city’s adopted son and their ‘Thala’ — Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni.

As the game began, nothing mattered more than watching their sporting heroes. It was the first time all the stands were open to the public in over a decade. The last time the entire venue had such a crowd was back in 2013 when these two teams played a Test match. Over the course of the game, the players, too, played on to the crowd, particularly Virat Kohli who was imitating the helicopter shot of Dhoni.

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Every time Hardik Pandya or he came near the boundary ropes to the field, the chants of ‘Kohli, Kohli’ echoed around the stadium so much so that the public who were at Marina Beach for the breeze in the evening would have heard it. There were the occasional chants of ‘Dhoni, Dhoni’, CSK, CSK, CSK’ and even ‘Sachinnn, Sachin’ to accompany Kohli.

By the time the Australian innings came to a close, it was almost a full house with over 36,400 fans egging on every delivery. If you are a cricket fan from Chennai, the sight of it would have filled your heart.

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On the field, it was a typical 21st-century Chennai wicket. It had very little to no help for the seamers early on. It did offer assistance to spinners who were able to turn as well as get the ball to bounce on the odd occasion. Pandya too managed to get some joy off the surface.

Kuldeep Yadav and he shared three wickets each, but the way Jadeja bowled summed up the surface.  If the CSK captain was watching the match somewhere, he would have had a smile on his face. For he knows what to expect come April 3rd — a track that stops and turns and a sea of yellow to cheer them on.

India Matters


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