Sourav Ganguly’s presence was not felt. But his absence might have been. The deejay was belting out chartbusters and korbo lorbo jeetbo (will do, fight and win) was doing the rounds.
But Kolkata Knight Riders didn’t have the numbers in the stands that used to rock the Eden Gardens each time the team song was played in the previous editions of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Monday presented the unusual sight of the Knights guarding their fort with just about 60 per cent of the seats occupied. It amounted to around 40,000 which is still a healthy figure for most other venues in India. However, for a stadium that can accommodate about 65,000, this turnout was probably the lowest in the brief history of KKR games.
There were strange scenes near the Mohammedan Sporting tent, roughly 500 metres from the ground, where tickets were being sold. Tickets worth R500, 900, 1200 and 1800 were available and just before stepping on to the makeshift lanes leading to the windows, people faced a surprising question.
“Tickets available sir, don’t go to the counter, that will cost you Rs 500. I will give you the same ticket for R 400. Interested?” asked a person holding a wad of tickets. When asked, he clarified he had stocked the tickets hoping to make a killing, but had to settle for the distress sale due to the tepid demand.
TEAM OR TALISMAN?
Was the changed atmosphere because of the absence of the city’s iconic son? Sporting a purple team shirt and standing on the upper tier of the club house, where a ticket costs Rs 3600, Supriyo Lahiri shook his head. “I’d say the team’s poor performance in the previous years has reduced interest in KKR. How can you support a team that keeps losing?” said the IT professional. Why was he there then? Smiling, Lahiri said: “I’m a KKR fan, not a dada fan.”
The team’s No. 1 crowd-puller was still hopeful of having Ganguly in the mix. “I will personally invite him whenever we play at Eden Gardens. Hopefully, he will respond and come for the games,” Shah Rukh Khan told a group of mediamen before entering the stadium.
KKR return to Kolkata on Sunday to take on Rajasthan Royals after locking horns with the same team in Jaipur on Friday. King Khan will hope that with Ganguly, the fans too would turn up in numbers because a half-empty Eden is a sad sight.