For the love of sport
Cricket fans in India go to incredible lengths to procure match tickets. From standing in queues outside stadia overnight to paying more than triple the actual cost in the ‘black market’, supporters leave no option unexplored.
For the IPL final between Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Gujarat Titans, a few CSK fans whom the diary met said they paid thousands for ‘complimentary’ tickets. It is a fact that in India, a chunk of tickets is allotted to various clubs and members free of charge.
With the demand high, a few generous but immoral souls appeared to have ‘sold’ a few of them to make a quick buck. So far, so good. But it was not until late on that fateful Sunday night in Ahmedabad, when the final was washed out and postponed to the reserve day, that the fans realised that they were in a pickle.
Another day of no cricket will mean a huge hole in the pocket, for no cricket body will compensate for a complimentary ticket! In the end, a last-ball win for CSK made their journey memorable. But imagine a situation where you spend thousands on travel, accommodation, and tickets and, in the end, return empty-handed and without a refund.
Flirting with the spirit of cricket?
If one ever needed a reiteration that Chepauk represents the land of MS Dhoni, the outpouring of love from the stands after the Chennai Super Kings’ final home game would do due justice.
A gleaming Dhoni savoured the victory lap with a heavily strapped left knee. He even took a moment to pause and sign an autograph for the legendary Sunil Gavaskar on his shirt.
Nine days later, the Super Kings were back in the all-important Qualifier 1 against the defending champion Gujarat Titans in their spin cauldron at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium. If the pitch was not intimidating enough for a visitor, the sea of yellow certainly was.
The manic atmosphere and the aura of Dhoni in his kingdom work their charm. It is, however, questionable when officials fall into the trap of his shrewdness.
When Matheesha Pathirana, Dhoni’s lynchpin in the death overs, was not allowed to bowl after leaving the field for nine minutes, the CSK captain pulled a rare card out to freeze the umpires. Pathirana, back in the field for four minutes, had to wait another five minutes before he could bowl again.
With the Titans’ chase testing CSK’s verve, Dhoni could not afford another bowler at this stage. Instead, the captain and his boys rallied around and engaged the umpires in a discussion as the clock kept ticking. Biting the bullet of one penalty minute, Pathirana was restored to bowl.
The act will receive its share of applause from the faithful, but whether the CSK maverick pulled off a trick too many—one that brushes the line of the Spirit of Cricket—is a question that will linger on.