The one heartening feature of taking big-time cricket to the hinterland is the unbridled enthusiasm it evokes among the fans, who are delighted to catch a glimpse of their sporting heroes whatever the hardship they have to endure.
A huge number of fans turned up at the stadium in Raipur to just watch the Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knight Riders train on Tuesday, unmindful of the inconvenience, having to trek 5 km from the main road as there is no public transport to the ground.
The reward for that effort was getting to see in flesh and blood two big names of Indian cricket, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir.
And the non-stop cheering during the four-hour training session was their way of expressing delight.
Sehwag spent a fair bit of time running on the boundary, but that was enough to make his fans happy. Gambhir was almost gheraoed by ‘VVIP’ fans seeking his autograph and wanting to click pictures with him.
The less fortunate stood at a distance and watched him bat.
For the thousands of spectators who will flock to the Saheed Veer Narain Singh International Cricket Stadium on Wednesday, it will be an occasion to see who between the two, India opening partners not so long ago, ends up on the winning side.
The defending champions, KKR, as well as last year’s early leaders, Daredevils, are desperate to rise from the bottom half of the points table. Not too different from the situation the two icon players are in.
Dream come true
But for young fan, Piyush Joshi, meeting his idol topped everything else. “I always wanted to shake hands with Gambhir, as he is my dream player,” he gushed.
For Delhi, eighth in the table, it will be an opportunity to avenge their defeat to KKR in the opening match of this edition at their second home venue.
The win against Pune Warriors in the first game here has helped them get a better grip of the conditions.
Gambhir was not too worried. “It’s an important game. But for us at least it’s not a do-or-die battle like it is for DD,” he said.