Torrid heat keeps the citizens indoors. “Too hot” is the common refrain as cricketers prepare for the Indian Premier League contest on Wednesday. But a dedicated para military force, regardless of these taxing conditions, is engaged in ensuring smooth conduct of the match between Delhi Daredevils (DD) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at the Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh Stadium.

On the eve of the contest, between seventh-placed KKR and DD, lying one rank below, Gautam Gambhir, along with Brett Lee and Manvinder Bisla, met a bunch of officers and jawans from the 65th Battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). The interaction was organised by IGP Zulfiqar Hasan for the benefit of a cricket-crazy young turnout which had many interesting questions to ask of Gambhir.

Leadership was the subject. Gambhir, who led KKR to the IPL title last year, was pleasantly surprised with the range of questions. He answered them patiently, posed for pictures, generally enjoyed the experience and emerged humbled by the warm reception and wishes he and his colleagues received from their fans in uniform, who braved the unfriendly weather to spend some time with their “heroes.”

Gambhir quickly corrected them.

“Sportsmen can’t be your heroes. You are our heroes. You perform duties in far more exacting conditions. We perform in a comfort zone. You are actually our inspiration. I am blessed to be in this position and interact with you,” he said invoking cheers from the jawans, who clicked away furiously from their mobile phones.

The KKR skipper would need their wishes. He will be up against a team that needs to win every match to have a mathematical chance of survival in this tournament.

KKR has a slim but realistic window provided it keeps an unbeaten record from here. “Passion is the key,” insisted Gambhir, looking ahead. He loves pressure because it “brings out the best” out of an individual even though this argument does not apply to his camp where some non-performing domestic players have not been able to motivate themselves. KKR has looked a team on the decline.

Daredevils is sailing in the same boat, struggling with some poor investments. The win against Pune Warriors in the last match brought some cheer to a dejected camp but the challenge will be to maintain the form, especially David Warner and Virender Sehwag, the two key figures if the team has to succeed.

They will be inspired no doubt. So would be the KKR players. They will have some special supporters in the stands, the jawans posted for the smooth conduct of the match.

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