The charm of viewing a cricket match in the stadium is unique in many respects. For some, it is an entry into a sacred space that, at once, synergises the mellow memories of yesteryear with contemporary glitz. For others, it is about sharing high-fives in celebration with complete strangers or gasping collectively in anguish. And then there are those who go to stadiums for their ‘I was there' moment.
The denizens of Chennai have lapped up this year's Indian Premier League with great fervour. The stadium attendances have been good across the country and Chennai hasn't been an exception. With the three new stands being thrown open to the public ahead of the second qualifier, it was almost a given that people would pour in.
While there were quite a few empty seats during the match, the final was expected to be a sell-out. And the enthusiasm found resonance in the manner Chennaiites lined up to watch the summit clash of the IPL from as early as 4 p.m. on Sunday. “Where did such a big crowd come from?” was the puzzled enquiry of a traffic policeman.
Tapan Haldar has been selling flags and headbands throughout this IPL season in Chennai. He says there has been a good demand for both Chennai and Kolkata merchandise ahead of the final. “There has been a lot of interest for this match considering there are many Bengalis in Chennai. I have sold a lot of KKR flags.”
As far as loyal fan following goes, Chennai Super Kings has carved out a strong base. K. Harish, a final year engineering student of SRM University, is one of the many ‘men in yellow' fans.
“I make it a point to attend as many IPL matches as I can every year. The concept of ‘cricketainment' has been a huge hit with the young and old alike. Even my mother, who doesn't follow the game too much, enjoyed the entertainment on offer.”
Harish also feels that the atmosphere at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium is unique. “I have watched matches at Bangalore and Mumbai as well. But the frenzied reaction that you get to see here is something else. With people like Sivamani keeping the spirits up with his drumming, there is no dearth of entertainment.”
S. Sharvari, a second year engineering student of SRM University, is in agreement with him.
“I am a huge cricket fan and I watch IPL matches every season. I make sure to arrive at least one-and-a-half hours before the beginning of a game. It's way better watching games at the stadium, cheering for CSK with other fans.”
Now, CSK may not have cracked the KKR code in the final. But it certainly has provided the fans enough ‘whistle podu' and ‘raise your hands' moments in the tournament.