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When deep purple’s an intimidating shade

Kolkata Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir says Kolkata crowd is a difference maker and unlike any other. Dhiman Sarkar and Somshuvra Laha report.

india Updated: Apr 05, 2013 01:48 IST
Dhiman Sarkar,Somshuvra Laha,Kolkata Knight Riders

If the Salt Lake stadium on Tuesday night sometimes looked as colourful as a Baz Luhrmann set, Wednesday at the Eden was about one hue. Deep purple.

That seemed to be the preferred shade even for those who didn't have fake replica shirts - one even had 'IPL 2012 champions, Baba Saloon' on his back - flags as wraparounds or headbands. And uniting everyone, in purple or not, was a three-letter chant. KKR.

Brett Lee gave the Eden an opportunity to start the chant first ball and she responded with a full-throated effort that told Unmukt Chand how friendless the place could be even to an Indian World Cup winning captain.

It happened again when David Warner found Sunil Narine more difficult than rocket science. And through a sold-out evening show that the IPL's first-ever opening match in Kolkata was.

A full house Eden breaking into 'korbo, lorbo jeetbo', exhorting its knights with a 60,000-strong chorus of 'KKR, KKR', and its Mexican Waves can be an intimidating experience for the visiting team. Just as Galatasaray is. Or the Camp Nou for Real Madrid supporters when Barcelona strut their stuff. Ask Delhi Daredevils.

Only advantage
With the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) reissuing the writ of IPL franchises having no control over the pitch, the home-and-away format leaves little advantage to the hosts. Save the crowd and the atmosphere it creates.

For Delhi Daredevils captain Mahela Jayawardene that matters a lot.

"I think the crowd is the biggest home advantage," said Jayawardene.

About the BCCI's diktat on the track, he said: "The wicket's still different from one venue to another venue. We still have to adapt."

Unknown pitch
KKR captain Gautam Gambhir admitted he didn't know how the relaid Eden track would behave, which prompted his decision to bowl after winning the toss.

"To me there is no home advantage," said Gambhir at first.

"For me it's only about playing good cricket. We have all our bases covered. We don't talk or think about wickets."

But asked specifically about the crowd, Gambhir relented saying they were a godsend.

"The Eden crowd has been fantastic. 50,000 people cheering for us is always a great plus. That can be very heart-breaking for any opposition," said Gambhir.

It couldn't have been more true.

When Yusuf Pathan sent Andre Russell over the bowler's head, the cheer was louder than the permitted decibel levels near midnight and it didn't need any amplifiers.

And to think that before KKR started their reply, the DJ said good night to the sound of music in keeping with the city's laws.

"They have been very loyal fans," said Gambhir.

"I have been with Delhi for three years. But they have not been as loyal as the Kolkata crowd is to KKR. It's always a great feeling when you walk onto the field with them backing you."

First Published: Apr 05, 2013 00:59 IST