Late on Saturday night, an email was sent out by Kolkata Knight Riders which said they expected an Eden Gardens like experience at their new home ground on Sunday. Skipper Gautam Gambhir too said before the match that even though nothing can better the Eden atmosphere, he expected Ranchi to back them.
Efforts to harness support for KKR had been in full swing for some days but it was never really possible to control the pulse of the crowd at a new venue. It can actually turn out to be quite unfriendly, as Gambhir found out during the match. "It didn't feel like a home game," he said at the presentation ceremony. "I just hope they support us more in the next match."
Whether it was because of the Royal Challengers Bangalore colours or that of a telecom company which is a league partner, there were many pockets of red inside the stadium. And the affinity was clear when Chris Gayle received loud applause when he came out to bat; and when Virat Kohli survived a run-out appeal.
All about colour
Vendors outside the stadium said RCB jerseys were selling more than KKR's since 'red looks good'. Besides the fact that the Bangalore outfit have been doing better than the 'hosts'.
A stadium official, who didn't wish to be named, said the attendance at the next game against struggling Pune Warriors will depend on how KKR perform against RCB. It was not a full house despite it being Ranchi's debut in the league although KKR's win should encourage more to come in. But there were some like Asif Ahmed, 22, who said there are loyal KKR fans in Ranchi who would come to watch. Co-owner Shah Rukh Khan is a big draw but still there was hardly any local connect.
Despite falling in the catchment area of KKR, not a single Jharkhand player is in the squad. By having local boy Saurabh Tiwary as an established player in the RCB ranks, the visitors scored over KKR in that aspect. And of course Ranchi was missing their favourite son. A 'MISS U DHONI' placard in the gallery confirmed that sentiment.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.