Sourav Ganguly, captain of Pune Warriors in action in their IPL5 match against Kolkata Knight Riders at Eden Gardens on Saturday. HT Photo/Subhendu Ghosh
Loyalties were divided in the much anticipated IPL match between Pune Warriors and Kolkata Knight Riders in Kolkata on Saturday, with many local spectators slipping into Sourav Ganguly-led Warriors jerseys as the Eden Gardens bleeded blue.
The match literally lived up to the much-hyped build up as the home spectators for a change shouted 'Dada, Dada', 'Go Pune, Go Pune' when the Knight Riders were batting first.
City's quizmaster-turned-politician Derek O'Brien was among the sellout 65,000 crowd cheering for Ganguly, while his daughter was there to support the home side Kolkata Knight Riders.
"All set then. Daughter supporting KKR but I am rooting for Dada's Pune Warriors," the MP said from his VVIP box.
The J Block resembled a mini Pune soaked in blue colours with a 1000-odd Pune supporters sitting together, holding placards and waving flags.
"Welcome to your home," read one placard while another said "Pune will rise like a phoenix," referring to their four-match losing streak to be on the second last spot on the league standings.
The support was also divided among the Debnath family of six members who had come here after booking tickets online.
"I cannot ditch our Ganguly. Wherever he goes, we will follow him. I'm obviously a Pune fan," 42-year-old businessman Dilip Debnath, sporting a Pune jersey, said.
His daughter Esha and son Tapobrata, however, were sporting KKR jersies.
"Kolkata is our city and the Knight Riders are our team. We love Ganguly but we will always remain loyal to Kolkata. They are doing well. I'm sure KKR will win it today also," the duo said in unison.
Banerjee siblings, Sirsha and Aditi, had come in both Pune and KKR colours.
"Ganguly is ours so it's obvious that I will support Pune," Sirsha said, while Aditi shot back, "So what if Ganguly belongs to Kolkata. A win for Pune will hurt Kolkata's cause."
Such was the craze of the match that Eden Gardens became a hot topic on microblogging site Twitter.
"A tweet to commemorate the return of Sourav #Dada Ganguly to Eden Gardens. The Prince returns in blue and his followers worship him," Ashish Sewgoolam wrote.
"Awesome atmosphere at Eden Gardens. Feels like an international match," Saurabh Malhotra tweeted from the venue, packed to the hilt.
Shubhajit Dasgupta, a first year student said, "We hate Shah Rukh Khan for the way he treated our icon. We want KKR and SRK to lose. Long live Ganguly."
Flag and placard vendors on the street also made hay cashing in on the fervour.
"I had sold about hundreds Pune jerseys. But the Knight Riders jersey is short on demand. In comparison, I've sold only 20 KKR jersies," Suman Bhowmick, a 50-year-old vendor near the Raj Bhavan, said.
It was not that the Knight Riders were short on support as Gambhir and Brendon McCullum put on their record 113-run opening stand, there were huge cheers for them.
But when Gambhir got out, the spectators switched loyalties to Pune camp, shouting 'Pune, Pune.'
As Ganguly's men were chasing a stiff 151, former India opener Aakash Chopra summed up the atmosphere in a tweet: "The crowd at the Eden Gardens is d best 12th man a team can have but today KKR will have to do with only 11 men. Split fan loyalty."