CHENNAI: Shut gates, plenty of men in uniform asking for ID cards. Television crew struggling to get equipment inside. Team bus enters the stadium to a thunderous roar even as security men forget duty for a minute to look for selfies.
A political party engaged in a demonstration right opposite the Pattabiraman Gate even as a few players get busy practising at the B grounds. Inside the secretary’s office, last-minute requests for tickets from the who’s who of Chennai.
Complimentary tickets in envelopes, ready to be handed over to top bureaucrats including Chief Secretary, Revenue Secretary, Police Commissioner, officials of the Fire and Rescue Department, Public Works Department and also some politicians.
And of course, a number of Kollywood stars inquiring if tickets are available, whatever the price may be.
Never mind the fact that the team is returning after a ban, the adulation that Chennai Super Kings have received over the past two weeks has even matched or sometimes eclipsed the sort of fandom normally reserved for Rajinikanth’s movies.
The wait ended a couple of nights ago in Mumbai, wherein the team’s grand return to the IPL fold, Dwayne Bravo orchestrated one of the biggest ever heist the BTown has seen.
Now is the happy homecoming. In the 10 days, they practised at MA Chidambaram Stadium, Dhoni & Co were greeted by nearly 10,000 fans one day.
On other days, the minimum attendance was at least 3,000. You know the fans have been waiting for ‘their’ team to return. The day tickets went on sale, they were gone in a couple of hours. Some fans, who couldn’t wait to see the team in their fortress, even travelled to Mumbai for a first glimpse, paying hefty amounts for tickets. It is hard to even think of any other franchise enjoying such a big connect with the natives. But then, not every team is Chennai Super Kings. Emotions will naturally be high in the stands, and also in the dugout for many players and support staff, who have been part of the franchise since its inception.
Though some of these emotions overflowed on Saturday in Mumbai, returning to the “den” in front of a partisan crowd will be another occasion to get overwhelmed by. Mike Hussey, who had been part of the franchise except for one season as a player and is part of the support staff now, struggled to understand why the team is the fans’ favourite.
“For us in CSK, it is like a family. And the fans make a huge part of it. It will be an emotional homecoming for us, no doubt. The place is going to be rocking tomorrow night. But we have to control emotions and focus on the plans we have and execute them. We have to be calm because it is going to be tough. A lot of players are excited to just play here. But how to win the game is very important,” said Hussey.
Willey set to join CSK
Chennai Super Kings are set to sign England all-rounder David Willey as a replacement for the injured Mitchell Santner. The franchise is understood to have submitted the necessary paperwork to the IPL Governing Council and are waiting for confirmation from England Cricket Board.