Fans' flocking train to Pune to express solidarity with their 'Thalaiva' Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings

CSK make special arrangement for 1000 supporters to travel and create a home atmosphere in Pune.

Published: 20th April 2018 01:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th April 2018 08:23 AM   |  A+A-

Chennai Super Kings have arranged for a special train to Pune for fans to attend matches at their new ‘home’ venue. (EPS)

By Express News Service

PUNE: Shifting home isn’t easy. All have experienced it at some levels of life. Even in sports, it’s not easy to leave behind a stadium, fans and the familiarity. In IPL, teams have sometimes voluntarily changed base. Some have been forced to, like Chennai Super Kings. The biggest trouble that comes with moving is replicating the atmosphere. The familiarity and comfort home provides can’t be found elsewhere. But CSK have been trying to have least a part of what they get back home in Pune as they gear up to face Rajasthan Royals on Friday. They have got over the familiar figures who help the team in Chennai, despite Pune having its own logistics team.

CSK officials feel it will help the players feel comfortable as they will know who to approach. From rearranging the dressing room to the team’s liking for motivational quotes and photographs, they have also brought in a touch of familiarity at the hotel. Because of the last moment shift, all were not in one hotel. On Thursday, the team moved to a different place because where they had stayed for a while was booked for a medical conference. And when they come back from Hyderabad on Monday, they will have to move to a different hotel. In an unprecedented move, the CSK management has hired a chartered train to ferry 1000 fans, who will arrive in Pune on Friday morning, watch the match and head back for Chennai on Saturday.

Officials not only persuaded Southern Railway to arrange a special train, but also found hotels and marriage halls to accommodate the fans. “Fans have been integral to our team and we have seen how much it matters to them. In the two years we were away, it was them who kept the team afloat with unconditional love. So when they approached us for help regarding travel, we thought why not go a step further and get all of them to Pune. We had little time because it happened inside three days. We sent our logistics team to Pune to take care of accommodation, food and other things. We have put them up in six hotels and two marriage halls,” CSK CEO Kasi Viswanathan told Express. Once the Railways gave the clearance, CSK asked its fan group to decide who gets to travel. Sriram, joint-secretary of the fan group, along with Prabhu (president) and Saravanan (secretary) put together the names after eight hours of brainstorming.

“We had a few fans who have been loyal during the two seasons the team was not playing. So the priority was them and then those who had bought the tickets for all home matches in Chennai. Then we put up a post on social media and based on the response, we verified each one of them because we wanted to avoid the sort of scenes that happened during the match in Chennai. This is only about who support the team and because they (CSK) are taking care of expenses, we have to be careful to not include anyone with other intentions,” Sriram said.

Incidentally, Sriram and Prabhu are not travelling to Pune. Although they won’t be able to get as many fans behind them as they do at Chepauk, the team management is serious with the idea of fans being brought over for the remaining fixtures in Pune. They are even planning to bring in as many as possible for matches against Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore, where support could be crucial. “Wherever MS plays we will get crowds.

Obviously, it won’t be as big as what we would get in Chennai because that crowd really pushes us along and gives us a huge lift. It is going to be a challenge, no doubt,” CSK batting coach Mike Hussey said. With regards to attendance, CSK are aware it won’t be a sellout as only 20,000 tickets have been sold for Friday’s fixture. They have kept last season’s prices in the city, with the minimum being `800. “We will face some loss definitely, but it also compensates for the 12,000 closed seats back home,” Viswanathan added.

Raina set to return, Willey likely for IPL debut

The MCA Stadium pitch is unlikely to assist spinners. CSK are tempted to make a couple of changes.
Captain MS Dhoni, who struggled with a back strain in Mohali, batted for long and showed no signs of
trouble. Suresh Raina, who missed the match against Punjab, also looked good. Though he will be
examined on Friday, the chances of him returning to the XI are bright. David Willey, Kedar Jadhav’s
replacement, is set for debut. The all-rounder is likely to replace Shane Watson.


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