Winner Knights versus nostalgia bites

Sub-inspector Sambhu Das had done duty at the Eden Gardens enough times to know without seeing or enquiring from anyone that Gautam Gambhir had just won the toss and elected to bat.

"I can make out somehow," said Sambhu with a smile and a savvy that screamed two World Cups and several Indian Premier League engagements.

Sambhu's "expertise" was a reminder of how once upon a time, when there was no live telecast of matches, fans used to hear rather than see their cricket. "Cricket-er Nandankanan Eden Gardens theke bolchhi," an Ajay Basu, Pushpen Sarkar or Kamal Bhattacharya would start off on AIR to the buzz of the crowd crackling through the radio.

Cricket may have since become a television spectacle but a group of regulars outside the Eden still tune in to sound rather than sight. Only in place of radio commentary, their antenna picks up noise from the ground like Morse to create a picture in the mind's eye.

"There goes the second roar. The players must be coming out now," said Amit Pal, a vendor selling KKR flags, as the tap of stadium-bound feet quickened all around on a hot Sunday afternoon.

The blazing sun did seem to dim the surround-sound effect of the 50,000-strong boom box but for how long can you suppress the roar that is Eden's calling card?

At 4.45pm, when fans in Block-L started a Mexican wave to welcome a six over long on by skipper Gambhir, Eden caught on. Three rounds of the wave and the crowd chant rose to a crescendo. Cue for the DJ to play Hookah bar.

When Gambhir departed for 53, there was a collective gasp but the crowd quickly recovered from the shock of a rattled off stump to see off the skipper in style.

Two SRK hits in succession, Om Shanti Om and Chammak Challo, triggered a buzz that King Khan might have arrived. He didn't, and it was left to Usha Uthup to play cheerleader from her Block-B corner. "Uri Baba," a boy shouted, looking at her. "Uri Baba," she hollered back.

Eden was at its noisiest in over 18. Three fours and a six by Eoin Morgan had the galleries screaming and dancing to Korbo Lorbo Jeetbo Re.

Somewhere outside the stadium, sub-inspector Sambhu would have known without seeing or asking that the Knights were galloping towards a winning score.

While Eden Gardens roared its approval of every run scored by KKR and later each Sunrisers wicket to fall, three die-hard KKR fans switched off.

Not from the match, though.

For friends Satyajeet Mishra, Geetansh Choudhary and Purnam Paul, superstition and ritual dictate that a KKR match is meant to be seen rather than heard. And when they follow the routine, the Knights seldom fail to click!

"Watching a match at the Eden Gardens is a different feeling. But we friends prefer watching most KKR matches together at home with the television in mute mode. We have been doing this for five seasons. Except one, KKR won all those matches," smiled 23-year-old Satyajeet.

The tradition started during a match between KKR and the Delhi Daredevils in the first season of IPL in 2008. "I was taking a call so we put the TV on mute. Just then the Shoaib Akhtar magic happened and out of the blue KKR won a match they were on the verge of losing. We decided from then on we would watch all KKR matches with the TV on mute," recalled software engineer Geetansh, glued to the TV at Purnam's Kestopur address.

But doesn't watching cricket in mute mode rob a match of its mojo? "If KKR wins then going without the commentary seems pretty small (a sacrifice)," smiled Satyajeet, an MBA student at Besu.

Just then Geetansh ordered "a six" and Eoin Morgan obliged. Pat came the request from his buddies: "Dobara bol (say it again)!"

What superstition do you have while watching a KKR match? Tell ttmetro@abpmail.com

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