Kolkata, April 23 (IANS) “It’s like a wedding function since we have arrived here at the team hotel,” a Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) spokesperson gushed on Sunday morning, hours before the side’s clash against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at the Eden Gardens here.
“Our team bus has been chased from the hotel and at the ground while entering for practice it was crazy,” said the official, not authorised to speak on record.
“Especially for the big three.” There are no points for guessing the triumvirate he was talking about.
Every time the RCB come calling, the combined star power of Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle so mesmerise the home supporters that they even fleetingly forget their loyalties and burst into applause as hammer blows from the trio cross the boundary rope.
“This has been the case every time RCB play here. The Kolkata crowd loves their cricket and they understand the level of these players and their pedigree. There is that fan boying that is unmistakable,” a Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) office-bearer said.
While Kohli is the poster boy of Indian cricket right now and has a following of 15 million on Twitter, de Villiers wows the audience across the cricketing globe with his only-AB-can range of shots and match-winning abilities.
Gayle termed the pair as “Batman and Superman” last year when together they gunned down a chase of 184 with Kohli cracking an unbeaten 51-ball 75 and De Villiers remaining not out on 59.
If Gayle were to be put in the same bracket, it would certainly have been “Gayle-Man”.
The burly West Indian who in his five innings at the Eden against KKR — his former employers — has plundered 339 runs with a hundred and two fifties, roared back to form in RCB’s previous outing against Gujarat Lions.
Gayle unleashed mayhem, striking 77 off 38 balls as RCB posted 213 for 2, the edition’s highest total, on a slow Rajkot pitch.
Together with Kohli, the deadly duo form the cash-rich league’s most successful opening partnership.
“The match has come to Eden at the right time,” quipped Avijit Maitra en route to the game with his friend.
“I am a Kolkatan and support KKR. But today, as a cricket lover, I am here to witness the magic of Gayle and Virat. It doesn’t matter who wins,” the 24-year-old from Tollygunge added.
This is only the second time the three will be playing together due to Kohli and De Villiers joining the team late. The only time they featured in the first XI was in a losing cause against Mumbai Indians where Kohli struck a 47-ball 62, but Gayle (22) and De Villiers (19) failed to shine.
Tickets have been sold out three-four days prior to the marquee clash with a beeline seen in front of counters a week ahead of match day.