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“Sachin...Sachin will always reverberate in my ears,” said an emotional Sachin Tendulkar while giving his farewell speech a few months ago at the Wankhede Stadium. The chant has been synonymous with cricket at the venue, a token of appreciation of the home crowd for their cricket hero.
When Mumbai Indians enter the park for their match against Kings XI Punjab on Saturday, it will be the first time a home team will play at the Wankhede sans Tendulkar in a tournament with international flavour. While the chant may not completely die down, the sights around the ground appear to have definitely changed.
Year after year, the IPL brings with it a slew of advertising paraphernalia, showcasing a prominent cut-out of the batting legend, be it giant posters or fan jerseys bearing Tendulkar’s name and number 10.
This time around the flavour seems to be absent. Posters and hoardings around the ground no longer have the maestro’s image, nor are the jerseys visible.
According to an MCA official the demand for tickets too is low. “The buzz is definitely less this time around. While the tickets do go at a steady pace each year, this time demand is comparatively low,” he said.
“Tendulkar’s following is surreal at the Wankhede. You know people go crazy for him and get behind the team. We know he is no long playing with us and have made up our mind about it. Hopefully we will play well and try to bring smiles to the faces of the fans in his absence,” Mumbai Indians’ captain Rohit Sharma said.