Cricket, cheers and a cartwheel

A thrilling final gave the fansa lot to cheer for at Chepauk.-V. GANESAN

This year, Chennai Super Kings' hat-trick dreams were destroyed and the IPL had a new winner. Kolkata Knight Riders has been the object of a lot of ridicule in the first three years and this triumph gave its owner, actor Shah Rukh Khan, a reason to dance, lock his team members in tight embraces, and do the cartwheel! Over to Arun Venugopal.

Much to one's relief, the last week of this year's IPL had a controversy-free denouement. There was some good cricketing action on view and the final unfolded in a manner identical to several matches in the league phase — a last over nail-biter.

Chennai Super Kings' hat-trick dreams were destroyed and the IPL had a new winner. Kolkata Knight Riders has been the object of a lot of ridicule in the first three years and this triumph gave its owner, actor Shah Rukh Khan, a reason to dance, lock his team members in tight embraces, and do the cartwheel!

Trinidadian tussle

Dwayne Bravo gave Kieron Pollard a peculiar send-off after dismissing the latter in the first eliminator match at Bangalore. Bravo made a gesture suggesting that Pollard fly back to Trinidad. The Chennai Super Kings all-round explained the reason behind his celebration after his team had pocketed the match. “Two days ago Kieron Pollard asked me to pack my bags and go home, before Royal Challengers' match against Deccan Chargers. So today it was my turn,” he smiled.

What was nice to see was the big man, Pollard, took the ribbing in his stride and smiled at Bravo. And it did help that Bravo and Pollard were good friends. Otherwise, there just might have been another ugly incident. Please, we can do without those.

The Morkel puzzle

Delhi Daredevils came up with a few bizarre decisions ahead of its second qualifier game against Chennai Super Kings in Chennai. The omission of Morne Morkel, purple cap winner for the highest number of wickets in the tournament, was the most startling of them all. There was initially some confusion among journalists about the status of Morkel.

Sources in the Daredevils camp as well as the team's official website initially stated that the South African was indisposed. However, Mahela Jayawardene's mid-game interview with one of the TV anchors confirmed that Morkel was indeed left out for the sake of “team balance”.

Mrs. Dhoni's anxiety bouts

M.S. Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir jointly addressed the press on the eve of the final. Among several questions, mostly cricketing in nature, one journalist asked Dhoni how his wife Sakshi reacted during the phase when Chennai's qualification depended on the performances of other teams. The Indian captain, visibly amused at the enquiry, admitted that his wife was more tensed than him.

“She wanted every result to go in our favour. She was the one who was eagerly watching the games. More often than not, she used to turn her face away from the television because she could not bear to watch it. That's how it was going on. I was having fun because I had been in such a scenario before. It was she who was more tensed than I.”

Pre-match delirium

The anticipating of watching Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders play in the IPL final reached a feverish high. All the roads in the vicinity of the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium were stuffed with people dressed in CSK's bright yellow. There was the odd purple and gold too with Knight Riders fans making their presence felt.

The craze meant that quite a few people would profit from the situation. There were people who were willing to pay up to 10 times the actual price of a ticket. “Do you have extra tickets?” was probably the most-asked question on the day. Those selling flags, headbands, and t-shirts, duplicate and otherwise (mostly the former), of both the teams had a field day. The fans didn't mind it as they were willing to go all out to flaunt their loyalties.

The security officials did have a tough time though reigning in the enthusiastic crowd and easing traffic bottlenecks.

SRK booed… and cheered

It isn't very often that one sees the Chennai crowd booing someone, be it members of the home team or opposition. After all, the city's cricket fans have long been regarded as knowledgeable and sporting.

In a heartbeat, come memories of the memorable Test match played at Chepauk against Pakistan in 1999. India's heart-breaking loss notwithstanding, the crowd rose to give Pakistan a wholehearted ovation.

But on the day of the final, when Shah Rukh Khan's face was shown on the big screen, the crowd, surprisingly resorted to booing. It happened two more times as well. But by the end of the game, the crowd was back to its usual self. The Knight Riders team was applauded and what's more, SRK received hearty cheers when he thanked the Chennai crowd. The actor then dedicated a cartwheel to the audience, evoking more shouts of approval.