Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals are out of sight this IPL but they are not out of mind, not at least in the social world. Despite the teams being disbanded, their official Twitter handles have continued to drum up support for their former players who have joined other teams this season. From posting group photos of the players in their new team shirts to going down memory lane and congratulating Ravindra Jadeja on his wedding, these two Twitter pages have held on to their past tightly.
Both teams command a huge base on Twitter, with Rajasthan Royals having 759 thousand followers while Chennai Super Kings have a whopping 2.16 million followers. And it’s not just the supporters who have kept the teams alive in the virtual world but also players like Dwayne Bravo who has been open about his sentiments for his former team.
The outpour of emotion started with the April 14 game between Gujarat Lions and Rising Pune Supergiants in Rajkot. The CSK Twitter handle labeled the game as a ‘CSK derby between Thala (MS Dhoni), Helicopters, Carrom Balls, Fafulous Catches and Chinna Thala (Suresh Raina), Sir (Jadeja), Bravo’s dance and Baz and Smith’s Blistering Opening.
But the nostalgia didn’t end there. Pictures of former players of CSK and RR taking group photos found their way to both the team’s twitter pages. On CSK’s handle the picture came out with the one-liner ‘The Family Reunion! #whistlepodu #sigh’.
Rajasthan Royals tried to touch a raw nerve by tweeting their reunion picture under the line ‘Missing them? Here they are! #HallaBol’.
While Rajasthan Royals have tweeted far less than Chennai Super Kings since that ‘reunion’ match the message from both pages are similar --- their players might have left them but they are still Royals and Super Kings to these banned teams. Jadeja might be playing for Gujarat Lions now, but he is still ‘our @imjadeja’ for CSK.
Almost a week after Delhi Daredevils’ Chris Morris hit eight sixes in an unbeaten and match-winning 82 against Gujarat Lions, Rajasthan Royals posted a picture of the South African in a blue Rajasthan shirt. The picture even bore a Rajasthan Royals hologram.
Chennai Super Kings were quicker to react though, posting a picture of Morris in CSK’s yellow shirt within hours of that enthralling match.
Diehard fans have not been forgotten as well. Like this CSK tweet on their MSD ‘Superfan’ Saravanan who went to Hyderabad to watch Dhoni in the Rising Pune Supergiants and Sunrisers Hyderabad game on April 26.
The pictures and tweets are clear indication that despite being disbanded, the team has been working at some level to keep its memories alive. After all, both CSK and RR are supposed to come back in the 2018 IPL after serving out their two-year bans.
However, who exactly has been behind this Twitter support cum nostalgia campaign remains a mystery. It brings back memories of the ‘Fake Indian Player’ blog of the 2009 IPL who posed as a Kolkata Knight Riders player and apparently ‘posted’ sensitive information about the team. It was later revealed to be an elaborate lie though. But this is a clear attempt of both franchises in trying to prevent its fan base from eroding in the light of two new teams being raised from a core of players that belonged to them originally.
It would have been difficult anyway, with even players pledging a lifelong allegiance to the bond forged while playing for their former team. Like Dwayne Bravo who had tweeted ‘Brothers for Life #CSK #Champion’ with a picture of him posing with Dhoni and Raina on April 15. CSK’s Twitter handle retweeted it within five minutes.
That it will some time for the erstwhile players of CSK and RR to move on was pointed out by none other than Dhoni himself when he was officially presented the Pune jersey just before the IPL. “I would be lying if I say I have moved on,” Dhoni was quoted as saying. “That is the special part of being a human being. There has got to be an emotional connect after eight years (with CSK). After eight years of IPL, it feels very different to play for any other team. All of a sudden if you want me to say that I am very excited to play for a new team, don’t give credit to CSK and the fans for the love and affection they have given us, it will be wrong.” The Lodha Committee report might have spelled doomsday for Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals but the ‘connect’ Dhoni mentioned has lived on in the virtual world.