Cricketers united in support of the Red Devils
This time though, Manchester United have gone a step further - reached the final of the Champions League and even with their mad schedule, cricketers in the IPL are gripping with nerves, excitement and a touch of tension. Venkat Ananth reports.Updated: May 21, 2008, 02:34 IST
"I am more concerned about Manchester United's result. Did they win?" Thus asked Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene to reporters after his brilliant century helped them conquer New Zealand in the semi-final of the last World Cup. Manchester United tamed AC Milan at Old Trafford in the Champions League semi-final the same night Sri Lanka qualified for the final. Little did he know that a week later, United would be eventually eliminated and Sri Lanka would have conceded the World Cup to Australia.
This time though, Manchester United have gone a step further - reached the final of the Champions League and even with their mad schedule, cricketers in the Indian Premier League are gripping with nerves, excitement and a touch of tension. As the match kicks off at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow at 12:30am (IST), irrespective of where they are, they would be part of the global TV audience of 150 million watching the Champions League final.
Now playing for the Mohali franchise, Jayawardene told HT about his club's chances. "They are playing some excellent football and I am confident that they'll get the right result," he said. He reconfirmed loyalties with the Old Trafford club, when he said, "I have always been a Manchester United fan and I want them to win the Champions League". That's not all.
When HT asked him about buddy Kumar Sangakkara, he said, "Well mate. I don't know which team he supports. But I am sure it is not Manchester United," dropping hints that his Sri Lanka deputy might well put his money on the Blues.
With South Africa due to host the next football World Cup final, the Proteas are not far behind either.
Cricket and rugby are still high on their minds, but football for Delhi's AB de Villiers and Chennai's Albie Morkel is still something to unwind.
"I am not a big soccer fan, but I will be watching the match tomorrow night. I'll go with Man United for the simple fact that (Cristiano) Ronaldo is playing for them. He's an amazing player who can just turn the game around," Morkel said.
AB, when posed with a question about his loyalties, was more forthright when he said "Manchester United, mate".
Indian ODI and T20 skipper MS Dhoni did not mince words when asked about his loyalties. "United as usual", he said. He will be watching the game once Chennai's match against Bangalore ends.
Mumbai's Robin Uthappa, however had a slightly different take on watching the Champions League final.
At first he said, "Given the cricket we have been playing, I do not know if I will get the time to watch the game. But, considering that the final is after the game, I will try watch it." When asked again about who he is throwing his weight behind on the D-Day, Uthappa went with the flow. "Manchester United for sure. I have been following the club and I just love watching Ronaldo play."
Come midnight and some Indian Premier League players will be rooting for the Premier League champions to win the Champions League. Sound twisted? Well that's how it is.