Of Gods and Partisans

Was at the Wankhede yesterday, watching Mumbai take on Kolkata in the IPL. Had a tough time getting to the stadium (yes even with an early day off at work).

The game turned out to be quite a one-sided affair, not at all living up to the pre-match hype it had been given. Ganguly and Sachin failed to entertain, notwithstanding Sachin’s catches – we all love Sachin the batsman, don’t we? Polly had a great match, and so did Jayasuriya. The applause for the Sri Lankan was second only to the Mumbai maestro, and one wonders if he would soon be granted honorary Mumbai citizenship. After all, he is not a North Indian too, so that may not complicate matters. (Just couldn’t resist taking a jibe at that.)

Shoaib Akhtar bowled his heart out but there wasn’t enough of a total to defend. And when you have Sanath on song, the target doesn’t really matter. I had hoped one of his sixes could be directed at our end, but that was not to be. Another disappointment, urgh.

But there is more to a T20 match than just cricket. There was a carnival atmosphere right through with the hordes squeezed into the stadium swaying to the beat of the resounding dhols. The cheerleaders and the Mexican Wave (even though it now seems antiquated) added to the colourful ambience.

What stood amidst all the dazzle though was the reception handed out to two of Mumbai’s most popular icons of the last two decades.

The first, had everyone chanting his name even before a single ball had been bowled. And once the game began, ‘Sachin, Sachin’ reverberated around the Wankhede even if the magician himself was not in the thick of the action. If God has another name, it might be Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. One wonders how the man copes with the devout adulation he receives.

The partisan crowd, however, was absolutely unsporting in booing Mr ShahRukh Khan. Only a few hours earlier, the actor was mobbed by spectators and journalist alike when he stepped out of the team bus. If only, SRK had been the Mumbai team owner, he would have certainly got a different reception from the fickle crowd. Certainly not done, Mumbai!

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