IPL: Cricket-lovers queue up at Chepauk as yellow fever grips CSK fans

Chennai: Walk around M A Chidambaram Stadium, which is all ready to host the inaugural match of Indian Premier League 2019, between hosts Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), tonight, and you can see that yellow fever has gripped everyone.

The walls are painted yellow, CSK jerseys are sold everywhere amidst men in khaki taking guard at vantage positions around Chepauk. After almost a year, cricket is back in Chennai.

For a city that is hailed as the home of knowledgeable cricket-lovers, it is a big bonanza as the venue would host seven home matches of the CSK. Sources say that the final of IPL 2019 will be played at the M A Chidambaram Stadium 12 May.

Excitement and anxiety have gripped all. Enthusiastic CSK-lovers have travelled from far-off places to catch the action live tonight.

Speaking to News Today, Ganapathy from Coimbatore says, “I landed in Chennai this morning. There is nothing like watching players like Dhoni, Kohli and others play at Chepauk. It is a life-time opportunity which I don’t want to miss it.”

He is part of the Coimbatore CSK Fans Club and is accompanied by half-a-dozen youngsters from his place. He adds, “Though we made elaborate plans last year for IPL, it was cut short after the political situation and protests led CSK to opt for Pune as their base. Our joy ended with just one match.”

Massive protests were witnessed last year when CSK played Kolkata. Self-proclaimed Tamil groups tried to lay siege to the stadium over the Cauvery water issue and a protester flung a shoe at Ravindra Jadeja during the match. However, the Whistle Podu Express, an entire train from Chennai to Pune organised by the club for its travelling fans last year, was easily one of the most heartwarming moments of IPL 2018.

“It is no doubt that IPL’s most popular franchise is CSK. They made a comeback to the league in 2018 after serving a two-year suspension on charges of spot-fixing. Though we were happy that they won the title last year, the fact that we couldn’t catch the action live at Chepauk was disappointing. We will make amends this year by turning up for all clashes with greater energy and more zing,” says Christopher, a resident of Tambaram.

When CSK players took to practise the last few days, an average of 12,000 people turned up to watch them at Chepauk. “The crowd for the practice game is just a teaser. You’ll witness the main picture once the season starts,” one of CSK’s most ardent supporters, Saravanan Hari, said, and added, “It is like a reunion of family members after almost a year. For three years, we haven’t been able to witness this at home.”

Though there is no threat of protests this time, the police don’t want to take any chances. The stadium and surrounding areas will turn a fortress.

Nearly 1,500 policemen will be deployed in and around the venue during the matches. An additional commissioner will be at the venue to monitor the security arrangements. Under him, a team of six deputy commissioners, 42 assistant commissioners, 37 inspectors and 120 sub-inspectors will be on duty.

Also, 1,300 police personnel, including head constables, grade-1 police and women police will also be present to handle the crowds.

The matches which begin 8 pm on the scheduled dates, will go on till 12 am. Tickets for the first match were sold within hours after the counter opened a few days ago.

M BHARAT KUMAR