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Chennai has its fans swaying

cricket Updated: Apr 24, 2008 02:43 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
Hindustan Times
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The IPL has been publicised as "entertainment ka baap". After watching the Chennai team's first home match against Mumbai on Wednesday, one could say the Chennai franchise has turned out to be the baap of all the eight franchises when it comes to entertaining crowds.

India Cements, the franchise owners, seemed to have got their act right when it came to pre-match activities as they have planned an hour-long performance by a popular singer ahead of every home match. It will be followed by a presentation by percussionist Sivamani on all seven match-days.

It all started at 6 pm, when renowned vocalist Hariharan came on to the stage.

The singer rendered some of his most popular numbers in Tamil and Hindi. He got the crowd involved as he made them sing the track from Sivaji, a Rajnikanth blockbuster.

The hour-long performance included tracks from Saathiya, Indian and Maachis. Just as the Chennaiites were getting into the mood, Hariharan rounded off his performance with Krishna.

By now, more than half the stands were filled. And it seemed as if they were waiting for this moment ever since they occupied the seats.

The moment Vijay, the Tamil superstar and brand ambassador of the Chennai team, replaced Hariharan, loud cheers went out.

The actor addressed them for more than five minutes and egged the crowd to support home team.

By now, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh were walking out for the toss. But hardly any one in the stands bothered. After all, Sivamani, the magical percussionist, had started his 20-minute performance.

The crowd was hardly silent for a second as he performed - cheering to the drumbeats and clapping to the rhythm. The performance got over just about a minute before Shaun Pollock ran in to bowl the first ball.

The other seven franchises would do well to take a clue from the Chennai franchise to set the house alight, literally.