Bringing all the charm of a man whose looks and lines have launched a thousand films, Shah Rukh Khan has mentioned one of the two constants in the television commercial that talks about his team’s journey in the first decade of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
In the ad spot that is aired with as much frequency as Chris Lynn’s ability to clear the ropes, Khan talks about the love of Kolkata Knight Riders’ (KKR) fans. Through the worst and the best of times, from when they wore black through their current colours of deep purple, the Knights have been backed by Eden Gardens.
Yes, it has shown its preference for a certain Virat, or a Sachin and, yes, it still gets high on MSD but the team Eden Gardens backs is their own. Tickets for Saturday’s matches have been exhausted and on Friday, touts on the Maidan were asking for Rs 1500 for a ticket worth Rs 500. And this has nothing to do with the announcement that KKR’s owner and the Bollywood badshah would be in attendance.
But just as constant as been KKR getting the heebie-jeebies nearly every time they meet Mumbai Indians.
From the time of Sourav Ganguly through the art of rotating skippers to Gautam Gambhir taking over, a lot has changed with KKR since 2008. They now have two stars on their shirts, have made four play-offs in six seasons and will survive the league phase this time too barring Kings XI Punjab winning their last match by a massive margin and KKR being embarrassed by MI here to the point that their net run rate of +0.729 is not among the top four.
Yet, through all this, KKR’s record against MI has stayed dismal. They have won only five of the 19 matches against MI and the last time that happened was in April 2015 at Eden. KKR have lost four straight games since to the men in deep blue and gold including this time in Mumbai. That was also the only game, barring the one against Royal Challengers Bangalore which ended in 9.4 overs, that KKR used only five bowlers.
Going into Saturday’s game, KKR’s record at Eden against Mumbai Indians is 2-5. This seems like what former England captain Gary Lineker had said about playing West Germany. “Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.”
So, would this be the right time to somewhat rectify this? “There will be another opportunity which may change the future. That opportunity is up to us to decide,” said KKR’s bowling coach Lakshmipathy Balaji said on Friday.
Given that this is a game where MI, like KKR, could also seal a top-two berth, they may not rest regulars as they did here in 2010, flying in on match day. For KKR, it will have to be seen whether Nathan Coulter-Nile, who is injured and hasn’t played since Lynn came back, returns.