As Chennai Super Kings meet Mumbai Indians today at Chepauk Priyadarshini Paitandy finds out how IPL has caught the imagination of cricket lovers

The Chennai Super Kings and the scorching sun are probably two of the hottest things that sweep over the city every summer. One of course the Chennaiites look forward to, the other we aren’t so sure of. In its sixth edition, the IPL frenzy may have toned down a bit but the league still manages a large following. Therefore it isn’t a surprise to see the city bathed in yellow. With the Whistle Podu campaign back on television, supporters are doing much more than just whistling and showing off their Dil jumping jhapak steps the way Farah Khan would expect them to.

Brandwagon

Caps, bandanas, wrist bands, flags, jerseys...these are probably the most prized possessions of a fan. Although the sales have been slow this year, the store owners are certain it will pick up after a few matches. The recently launched range of CSK cricket kits as well as T-shirts, sippers, mugs will probably uplift the waning interest of the supporters in their team’s merchandise. The T-shirts come in 73 designs and are perfect for fans who want to wear it off the stands and into a party. Swaminathan Sankar of Luminari, the distributor of CSK merchandise, says, “In just about a week’s time we have got about 2,000 orders online. It’s interesting to note that kids between the ages of four to 14 years form a big customer base. So we have a lot of merchandise for them and shortly plan to launch a ‘Back to School’ range that includes school bags, lunch bags and geometry boxes. The official as well as the unofficial brands have jerseys starting from size XS that’s targeted at three to four year olds. And apparently they sell like hot cakes. Even the price tag of upwards of Rs. 1,000 and upwards isn’t a deterrent. While that’s definitely more expenses for the parents, the little ones are of course thrilled. So which other team’s merchandise sells the most here? According to a shop owner in Pondy Bazaar he sells around 10 Mumbai Indians jerseys and 30 CSK jerseys on an average during a match day.

Wondering what else you can collect apart from the usual? How about miniature figurines of cricketers? Cricket Stars by the U.K.-based Figuractive allows you to collect action figures of popular cricketers. Maybe you could line up a team of your own if you aren’t too happy with the selection of the playing 11.

Style quotient

Neon pinks and emerald greens may well be the colours that are in this season but for the next seven weeks at least many of the boutiques and stores in the city will have prefer to have elements of yellow in their display window. Those tired of wearing the same yellow jersey are getting into little yellow dresses, shirts and trousers.

Mane matters

Getting their hair styled like their icons is of course an ongoing trend. Over the last couple of years fans have gotten themselves a mop of curly hair a la such as Malinga or beaded braided locks of Chris Gayle. And then there are the outlandish fans who get their hair streaked to match the colour of their teams. Veena of Naturals says, “We get young fans asking for their faces to be painted. This time quite a few girls wanted their nails to be painted yellow with CSK motifs. There is also a lot of demand for wigs. Our curly wigs especially the yellow ones are extremely popular.”

Indelible love

And then there are fans who take flaunting their loyalty to an all new level. How? By getting tattoos done. Amarnath of Talisman, a tattoo studio, says he recently got four clients who wanted the CSK logo done on their arms. “They wanted permanent ones. We gave them the roaring lion tattoo. It’s about four inches. One of them got it done in colour,” he says. Many other tattoo parlours across the city get similar requests too and the ones with a phobia for needles there are always the eager painters outside the stadium who can sketch almost perfect caricatures of the ever-popular Sachin Tendulkar or even the younger and feisty Virat Kohli.

Field of choice

Any match, no matter how tense it is, is seldom fun without food — it could just be plain old potato wafers and cola or even fancy wine paired with gourmet food. While some of the superstitious fans prefer sitting by themselves in a corner in their homes rooms and fasting while watching the match, there are many who prefer hanging out with friends at the various watering holes and restaurants across the city. Almost all the venues have giant screens and projectors. In addition they also have interesting offers to lure and retain the fans. Some offer innovative stadium foods to get a feel of being at the venue, some have combos and unlimited beverages while some others and some have drinks and finger foods named after players. Next time someone says they are high on Brett Lee or had a plate of Ponting special, don’t look quizzical. Dublin at Sheraton Park Hotel and Towers, where the team is staying, prides itself as the lair of the CSK and is done up with large posters of the home team...banners unfurl from the ceiling and paw marks direct you to the dance floor where the DJ plays a selection from his repertoire as party goers high five, dance and also have the opportunity of bumping into their sporting idols.

Hit apps

For a fan, staying away from the stadium/television sets during a match is probably as tough as crawling on a bed of powdered glass. (Excuse my over-dramatic metaphor!) Dear enthusiasts there’s no reason to fret as there is always the option of radios (okay not cool enough), online score (you already know that) and apps. A quick app search using the words IPL can throw up hundreds of options such as IPL Dugout, IPL 6, IPL Cricket Fever, T20 League 6, IPL 2013 Schedule & Live Score. Schedule, live scores, ringtones, games, quiz, photos, records, points table...there are even a few that beep on the day of the match and remind you if your team is playing.

Chennai ponnu

Yes, we missed the opening ceremony in our backyard this year. But good news is that this time we have Chennai girl Rochelle Rao hosting the IPL. “Being an anchor on MAX Extraaa Innings has been on my wish list. I am excited and nervous at the same time as this is my first live TV show. It’s humbling and inspiring to walk amongst the greats I had only read about,” says Rochelle. Much like most people in Chennai, Rochelle too has a soft spot for CSK. She says she has a wardrobe full of yellow and a lot of CSK merchandise. Does she miss not wearing the team jersey this time? She replies, “Since I have a stylist who picks out clothes that are specific to match and venue, I think that trumps any jersey right now.”

Special platter

Any match, no matter how tense it is, is seldom as fun without food - it could be plain old potato wafers and cola or even fancy wine paired with gourmet food. While some of the superstitious fans prefer sitting by themselves in a corner in their rooms and fasting while watching the match, there are many who prefer hanging out with friends at the various watering holes and restaurants across the city. Almost all the venues have giant screens and projectors telecasting the games. In addition they also have interesting offers to lure and retain the fans. Some offer innovative stadium foods,some have combos and unlimited beverages and some have drinks and finger foods named after players.Next time someone say they are high on Brett Lee or had a plate of Ponting's special, don't look quizzical. Dublin at Sheraton Park Hotel and Towers, where the team is staying, prides itself as the lair of the CSK and is done up with large posters of the home team...banners unfurl from the ceiling and paw marks direct you to the dance floor where the DJ plays a selection from his repertoire as party goers high five, dance and also have the opportunity of bumping into their sporting idols.