The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) may be baying for IPL Chairman Lalit Modi’s blood, but the crowd that filled Navi Mumbai’s DY Patil Stadium for the final IPL match couldn’t get enough of him.
Modi was among the host of VVIPs, including Mukesh and Kokilaben Ambani, who arrived at the stadium in a helicopter. Even as the choppers landed on the ground next to the stadium, the spectators queued up for the celebrities.
When Modi made his way to his car, the crowd cheered. While one youth shouted: “We are with you, Mr Modi”, another called out: “Come back next year, Mr Modi.” Modi waved back to the crowd and thanked them.
The mood around the stadium was ecstatic, with the crowds thronging the stadium hours before the schedule match time.
Mumbai Indians supporters, in their blue t-shirts, far outnumbered those of the Chennai Super Kings.
Several came dressed for the cameras. Said a teenager whose group wore Gandhi caps: “The camera picks up people who look different. This is our look for the camera.”
Even as the ticket holders made their way inside the stadium, throngs waited outside and negotiated with scalpers – the going rate almost 10 times the original price. A Rs 500 ticket was going for Rs 5,000, with plenty of takers.
Among the others who did brisk business were the shops around the stadium, including the beer shop, which saw its sales zoom. Then there were those who directed motorcyclists to ‘parking spots’ – then asked for Rs 50 as parking charges.
Possibly the only people waiting for this to be over are the city’s policemen. Said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime), Dattatrey Shinde: “Four matches in a week were very hectic and exhausting. The terror threat made the need for security critical. We are glad everything went off well.”
“We would come in at 9 am and leave at 2 pm the next day. It was sheer torture. Nobody really took into account that we too are humans. And of course, if anything had gone wrong, we would have been the scapegoats. I’m glad it’s all over,” said an exhausted constable.