Ishan Porel: the pacer Eden Gardens loved back

The road outside the Eden Gardens in Kolkata was full of people desperately looking for selfies with Bengal's 21-year-old fast bowler Ishan Porel.

Ishan Porel, clearly, was a busier man after the match ended in Bengal's favour!

Ishan Porel, clearly, was a busier man after the match ended in Bengal's favour!   -  Ayan Acharya

They are chanting names, coming up with slogans, and even bringing the trumpets along. The intensity of the excitement among the Eden crowd at the stadium outgrows the enormity of its size.

A fascinating cheer that conveys the love and rewarded trust of the crowd is in the backdrop as Porel starts to talk,"It feels surreal. I'm still getting used to it. So many of them have made it to the ground to watch the match. It's great to have school kids cheering for the game, and I'm glad we could treat them to a win!"

Eden loves Porel. The road outside the stadium was full of people desperately looking for selfies with the 21-year-old.

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This crowd had a purpose. Their day began with a "Ja Porel Ja, niye ne eder ke" which started softly from ball one and grew every time Porel made the batsman play and miss. The essence of this expression might get lost in a literal English translation but it translates to "Go, get them (Karnataka batsmen) Porel!"

"I didn't expect them to be this loud and supportive. Last night, on my social media, I asked people to show up in big numbers and they did just that. It's been an amazing three-four days for me and the team," says Porel.

Proving a point

There was a bit of everything to enjoy in Porel's bowling ... pace, seam, swing and the typical fast bowler's banter. KL Rahul, whose duel with Porel was a flashpoint of the semifinal, saw the lanky pacer trap his new IPL team Kings XI Punjab's captain for a duck in the second innings. "He is a great guy, Rahul. He congratulated me for my spell and said 'See you in the IPL. Hopefully, we'll have a great season'".

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"It does motivate me to do better when I'm facing the likes of Rahul, Karun Nair and Manish Pandey. They're all India internationals and have played at the highest level. That's where I want to be and the only way to do that is by showing my mettle in front of great batsmen."

The Lal effect

Porel, a die-hard Barcelona fan, compares Arun Lal to Liverpool and Manchester City coaches Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola.

"I would like to think of Lal sir as Guardiola and Klopp. Both these men have been great in their respective coaching stints and it's no different with Lal sir. He calls it as he sees it. Never talks behind anyone's back.

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"If he feels there is a problem with your technique or temperament, he'll straightaway come and have a word with you. That's what I admire a lot," says Porel.

"Our trainer Sanjib da has had a big impact on my career in the last year. I'm physically more fit and mentally stronger, thanks to the time spent with him."

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One for the shutterbugs: Ishan Porel says Bengal trainer Sanjib has had a huge impact in his career.   -  Ayan Acharya

 

The clamouring school kids want more selfies, more autographs. Porel turns towards them and gestures, "Ek minute, ek minute,'" he mumbles before adding, "This is crazy!"

Porel has time for one final question about football... "Barça for life, dada. It doesn't matter who's managing us (Barça). We will win Champions League this year," he responds to a query about his favourite football team. "Barça has that winning mentality. Hopefully, Bengal will emulate the same."

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