Sourav Ganguly the captain of Pune Warriors giving some tips to his bowler Bhavanesh Kumar after few wide balls in their IPL5 match against Kolkata Knight Riders at Eden Gardens. (HT Photo/Subhendu Ghosh)
It was an evening that tested loyalties. The general view was ‘why take sides when you can support both Dada and the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR)’? Turquoise blue of the Pune Warriors was thus in harmony with the home team’s purple and gold.
But make no mistake — Sourav Ganguly emerged from the Eden Gardens a hero even though his Warriors lost again. It was their fifth loss in a row while KKR moved to within one point of table toppers Delhi Daredevils.
The sea of supporters blended nicely at the packed Eden. While the rest of the world went mad figuring out how Ganguly would feel checking into the visitors’ dressing room or the discomfort that would be caused to home skipper Gautam Gambhir if the crowd turned hostile, Eden had its own way of calling it even.
The welcome was almost orchestrated — fans getting up on their feet, shouting in unison their hero’s name as their Dada nodded in appreciation before inspecting the pitch. It was a touching moment to watch Ganguly measure his stride in what could possibly be his last high-profile match at the venue.
The passionate cheers and palpable sadness when Ganguly finally departed couldn’t have been more befitting. But there was a parting gift from him as well.
Typical of the ‘para ka dada’ idolised by fans, Ganguly was at his bullying best. Ask Jacques Kallis, who was upper-cut by him and given a mouthful. It was a reminder that the Eden Gardens was Ganguly’s patch of land.
Ganguly went the way we are used to seeing, holing out in the deep and perhaps making way for the new order of Gambhir. But even Gambhir later admitted that Delhi wouldn’t bleed for him the way Kolkata did for Ganguly.