May 7, 2012

If you're not for dada, you're against Kolkata

What happens when Sourav Ganguly comes home - on the opposition side - in the most awaited match of the year's IPL?
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Bengalis can be neatly divided along the lines of a few rivalries. They are either ghotis or bangals. Bangals came from east to west Bengal at the time of partition, Ghotis always lived in the west.

Regardless of whether they are ghoti or bangal, they like either Pele or Maradona. Their team is either East Bengal or Mohun Bagan, Brazil or Argentina. The twain do not meet. This is no laughing matter. Bengalis can spend hours debating these things at roadside addas, coffee shops and pubs. Support is absolute and stubborn, never-changing. It has to be either-or.

Slightly less intense than the sports affiliations are the Amitabh Bachchan-Rajesh Khanna debates. Then there are certain non-negotiables - those for whom it is blasphemous to think worthy rivals exist, icons without parallels. Kishore Kumar. RD Burman. Manna Dey. Sourav Ganguly.

Ganguly. Dada.

Kolkata was a great sport-loving city, selling out cricket and football matches long before Ganguly arrived. Once he did arrive, though, he took the mania to another level.

He shares a special relationship with Kolkata fans. Arguably no other Indian player, not even Sachin Tendukar, has had such a bond with his home city. Form matters little. If you are not on the side of dada, you are on the wrong side of Kolkata.

Rahul Dravid and his Indian team experienced that six years ago. Ganguly had been dropped, and he and the coach, Greg Chappell, were in the middle of a public spat. At such a delicate time India came to Kolkata to play South Africa in an ODI. A green pitch was rolled out, the crowd booed India, and though infamous for having stopped two international matches before this because they couldn't bear to see India lose, they now applauded South Africa for thrashing the team that had no use for their dada. Dravid commented upon arrival in Mumbai that it felt good to be back in India.

This kind of thing is not unique. When Bajan Anderson Cummins was not picked for West Indies back in 1992, Barbados almost rioted, and boycotted the match. A slogan at the near-empty stadium read, "No Cummins, no goings." In the late '80s in Perth, almost every Australian wicketkeeper on national duty was booed at the WACA, because Perth believed that place belonged to Tim Zoehrer. Hell hath no fury like love for a favourite sportsman combined with perceived injustice to said hero.

May 3
The whole of last week has been one big build-up to the match of this IPL, never mind that there has been no break from non-stop IPL games, merging into each other like the contents of one large multigrain khichdi. You might struggle to keep abreast with who is playing whom, where and why, but this match has been pencilled in.

Ganguly no longer represents Kolkata in the IPL. The perceived injustice is conspicuous here. Kolkata Knight Riders, the city franchise owned by film star Shah Rukh Khan, first took away his captaincy, and then eventually, as they say in corporations, let him go. The new captain, Gautam Gambhir, had to struggle for acceptance at first, but time has passed since then, and he has been leading from the front this year. Knight Riders are not far from their second straight appearance in the knockouts.

Ganguly's wife has been quoted as saying she is sure the whole of Kolkata will come out to support "their dada". Chain emails have been informing philistines that Warriors are owned by a Bengali and captained by a Bengali, as opposed to Knight Riders, who are owned by a Delhi Pathan who now lives in Mumbai and captained by a brash Punjabi from Delhi.

An email arrives from Google India with statistics on web searches over the last week. Ganguly leads the way with a whopping 41%. Only 11% of those searching for cricket have looked for MS Dhoni

You land in Kolkata on a hot, muggy afternoon and the first billboard you see outside the Dum Dum Airport stars Ganguly. Only further in towards the city do you see Knight Riders on billboards. In sets of three. Mostly advertising heavy sherwanis. The message on those billboards is: "Play to earn your respect". Somebody at the ad agency knows the dynamic between this team and its city.

Knight Riders don't stand a chance here, I think, if Ganguly gets anywhere close to getting on a roll. They could be playing against close to 70,000 people. The likes of Gambhir have benefited from it in the past, notably in a Test against South Africa when the visiting side just froze in the noise. Bear in mind the stadium was only half full then, because one part had been brought down as part of World Cup renovations.

Times have changed. The first myth to be busted in Kolkata is that Bengalis are blind supporters of Ganguly. They understand that their dada is not a natural fit - at this age - for Twenty20. This format needs a constant attempt to convert regulation ones into twos. There is little time to play yourself in, much less to make up for it later. Ganguly has been going at a strike rate of under 105.

Yet Ganguly created some hysteria with a Man-of-the Match showing against the strongest side in the league, Delhi Daredevils. Who doesn't love them an underdog? What a celebratory run he went on after taking a wicket in that match. Surely that converted the doubters?

In today's age, though, that game, played 12 days ago, is already history. Half the people I talk to about Ganguly want to know why he is not letting Steve Smith bat. Smith, the Australian allrounder who went from being the next Warne to the white Ravindra Jadeja in no time, has been going at a strike rate of close to 150, but hasn't - batting after Ganguly - had enough time in the middle to score even a fifty. What times, I say to myself, that Kolkata is questioning Ganguly's batting ahead of Smith. Then again, such is the game, the format of it, that Ganguly has chosen to play at the age of close to 40.

Then there are those who sympathise with how hard Ganguly is trying, but say the eye, the shots, are just not there. One of them, my host, a man who played cricket for Mohun Bagan, has followed Ganguly's career from when he was an adolescent and nicknamed Maharaj (king), and watched his Lord's century live. He doesn't like Twenty20 because the contest, he says, is now between bat and bat, not bat and ball. Even he is interested in this match, though. He says Knight Riders have earned acceptance here, especially among youngsters. He is also of the view that Ganguly shouldn't continue playing because he is clearly not half the player he was. "If you were to go to the game, who will you support?" I ask. "Sourav, of course," he says without a moment's thought. That's Kolkata.

I go to the Hindustan Times office to meet a friend. We get to discussing Ganguly and his relationship with the city. An email arrives from Google India with statistics on web searches over the last week. Ganguly leads the way with a whopping 41%. Only 11% of those searching for cricket have looked for MS Dhoni. We discuss how irrational sport fans can be, and how understanding their behaviour and preferences is one of marketing's biggest challenges.

On my way out, not carrying a chhaata, a cardinal mistake in Kolkata, I am caught in a downpour - almost expected after the oppressive heat and humidity during the day. People on the street are worried about the game already. "Jodi jhor-bishti hoye?" [What if it rains?]

May 4
The Saturday game is the event of the year. Four days ago, the Cricket Association of Bengal released 10,000 tickets for sale. More than 25,000 prospective buyers turned up. Hundreds of policemen had to maintain order, the obligatory lathi charges were carried out, and the tickets were gone in no time.

The mind games begin. The Warriors' CEO, Deep Dasgupta, says it is all on account of one man. Knight Riders' Jeet Banerjee says it would be inaccurate to credit it all to Ganguly; Knight Riders, after all, have been drawing crowds too.

For the last four days, the lead sports story in the newspapers - English, Bengali, Hindi - has been this match. One of the reports says how Jagmohan Dalmiya - how can you keep him down? - tried to install big screens all over the city for those who missed out on tickets, but the police have more than enough to handle at Eden, let alone more crowds outside the stadium. In the newspapers Ganguly is always Sourav on second mention, not Ganguly. Gambhir, Dravid, Kumble, Tendulkar are just cricketers. Sourav is theirs.

Any discourse about Bengalis is incomplete without emotion and overstatement. Historian and cricket writer Ram Guha has been quoted thus: "I don't want to sound hyperbolic, but Sourav Ganguly, for many Bengalis, has been without question the most popular icon after Subhas Bose. His being dropped from KKR last season was seen by many as a kind of repeat of Bose being driven out of the Congress by Gandhi."

How can politics be far away? I am told that Ganguly always supported Bengal's former Communist government, and that he is not liked by the current chief minister, Mamata Banerjee. It has been noticed that Ganguly is not invited to as many government functions as he used to be earlier. Shah Rukh Khan is now the brand ambassador of the state. He is supposed to have been promised thousands will be sent for this match, dressed in purple, carrying purple flags. What intrigue, just for one man, one match.

Bara Bazaar in central Kolkata is a typical Indian old-city marketplace. It is also the betting capital of Kolkata. The bookmakers here have Knight Riders - four wins in a row, stronger team, playing in familiar conditions - only at 60-40 against Warriors, who have lost four in a row.

Elsewhere mishti'r dokaan (sweet shops) are making special mishti (sweets), pujas have been arranged, pandals have been booked. The man himself is still in Pune, and will get to Kolkata later tonight. This match is going to be his third in five days - a gruelling schedule in May.

I make my way to Eden Gardens, where the authorities have wisely, and unlike at some of the other Indian grounds, allowed the public to watch the players train. I go past the heavy police cover to find about a thousand people watching the Knight Riders train. Inside Eden Gardens you turn right for the home dressing room, and left for the visitors' one. It's the home viewing area where Ganguly sat shirtless, his upper body wrapped in a towel, for more than five hours when, 11 years ago, Dravid and VVS Laxman did the unthinkable against Australia. That's the dressing room Ganguly has always used, but tomorrow he will turn left, and not many will be able to see how he reacts when he does so.

I watch the Knight Riders train from the lower tier of the club house. The seat I am sitting in goes at Rs 6000 for IPL games. In the black market, it is now going at Rs 40,000.

Part of the Knight Riders team are Bengal players Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Manoj Tiwary. Shukla last played against Ganguly 14 years ago, in a club match. Tiwary has never played against Ganguly. For his team-mates, Ganguly is dadi, not dada. Tiwary has spent hours and days watching dadi at Eden. "If I got to see one cover-drive, that made my day," he says. Tiwary expects 70% of the crowd to support dadi. That cover-drive, though, that thing of beauty, nowadays counts for just one run. You need slogs and switch-hits and whatnot.

A day before the match Gambhir is asked what he thinks of the "away match", and he doesn't seem impressed with the line of questioning. Kolkata is free to support anybody, he says, before reminding them that it is Knight Riders who carry their name and who play for their pride. He is also unimpressed with how their bowling coach, Wasim Akram, has upped the stakes by calling this game as good as an India-Pakistan game. It is perhaps how Akram and the likes played. That was an era of showmen, and the higher the stakes the better they played. This era has enough pressures to deal with and always underplays everything.

May 5
Match day, and what irony that another favourite son, an adopted favourite son, Mohun Bagan's Brazilian striker Jose Ramirez Barreto should play his last game for the club tomorrow, against a team from Pune. Like Ganguly, he is not retiring, just amicably parting ways with Bagan. About 30,000 are expected to give him a send-off on Sunday, but the event of the year is today, with 70,000, including the police and other organisers, expected at Eden.

Outside the stadium, replica Warriors jerseys are priced at Rs 50, Knight Riders ones at 40. Yet it's Warriors shirts that are selling more. This could have to do with the fact that the home fans have already bought their share of jerseys earlier. The crowd seems split down the middle, with an equal number of purple and blue jerseys visible.

The sight of Ganguly at the toss sends the stadium into raptures. In the half hour between toss and start, both parties get into a chanting battle. "Pu-ne, Pu-ne." "K-K-R, K-K-R." Knight Riders have won the toss and have elected to bat. Shah Rukh hasn't arrived yet.

Gambhir grabs the initiative and plays the crowd into his favour with a fifty on a slow surface. After his fall, though, Knight Riders lose their way, and add just 37 off the last 45 balls. The stands, though, are just as loud, cheering every dot ball, and every time Ganguly moves his arms to direct the field. The roof comes off when he catches Shukla.

In the second innings, Knight Riders strike early. A man behind me begins to shout, "Bari chole jao, Pune. [Go back home, Pune.]" A father and son in the same row as me argue over who is better. Son likes Knight Riders, father can't forget what dada has done for India and Bengal. Most instructive too: son identifies with modern winners, father thinks it began with Ganguly.

Two things happen in the fourth over: Shah Rukh finally arrives, and the second wicket falls. Girls, grown-up women, grown-up men forget cricket, grow weak in the knees and start waving at Shah Rukh. Whisper it: the cheer is louder than what Ganguly received at the toss.

As Ganguly approaches the dugout, someone shouts, "Lubhly, lubhly", followed by which the ground gets on its feet. Seventy thousand people applaud as he walks off

I, and the shouting man behind me, are more interested in why Ganguly didn't come in at No. 3, and if the crowd will pull their eyes off Shah Rukh now that Ganguly is about to walk out. Ganguly doesn't. Finally, ironically, Smith does. People in my section of the crowd begin to smell a rat. "The owners have changed the batting line-up," they say. "Dada doesn't run away."

Smith falls. Another wicket falls. Then another. Still no dada. Somebody shouts from a few rows back: "Dada toh bari chole gecchhey. [Dada has gone home.]"

He hasn't. He comes out at the fall of the fifth wicket. Gambhir sees him get up and immediately asks for a helmet. A silly point is in, so are a slip and gully. Ganguly pokes and fumbles at Sunil Narine's offbreaks. Four dot balls in a row. The crowd doesn't know what to do. Silence for the first time. Confusion all around.

In the next over, Ganguly hits Jacques Kallis over mid-off. Not well-timed but over the man. Then he upper-cuts. Kallis responds with a bouncer too high. Then he is in the ear of Ganguly. Eden boos as one. Gambhir takes Kallis off after the over.

As Ganguly and Angelo Mathews go about rebuilding the innings, the running between the wickets begins to hurt Pune. There is no pressure on the fielders in the deep, nor are quick singles attempted. When Ganguly does call Mathews through for one, starting early, running as hard as he can, he is nearly run out. As we await replays, I think if this will be the biggest anti-climax: Ganguly run out at home, taking a single - just the thing to do in this format. What, though, would a potential climax be? Ganguly hitting a winning six perhaps.

Sixes are coming off Mathews' bat, though. Three in a row, which change the game's complexion. It's a straight chase now, except that five wickets have fallen. Ganguly has to mix attack and defence, make sure Narine doesn't take a wicket. Only four runs come off Narine's third over, the 17th. Thirty-one required off 18. Ganguly, the culprit in the last over, now hits Rajat Bhatia for a flat six. Shah Rukh sits still, but the rest of Eden erupts.

Two balls later Ganguly mistimes a pull. Iqbal Abdulla catches it. Ganguly is gone. Shah Rukh still doesn't emote. He is careful not to hurt any Kolkatan's feelings. Eden is confused too. The KKR fans are subdued because they can't cheer at the fall of dada. The man behind me, though, tells Ganguly to "go back home to Pune". Just as Ganguly approaches the dugout, though, someone shouts, "Lubhly, lubhly", followed by which the ground gets on its feet. Seventy thousand people applaud Ganguly as he walks off. He is moved, raises his bat to the crowd. "Class toh class [Class is class]," is the murmur all over my stand.

Knight Riders are mighty relieved at having bitten this dada bullet. The same men who said it was just another game go on a lap of honour to thank the crowd for not making it an away match - except for a few moments. Shah Rukh doesn't miss a good PR opportunity, and takes dada on a lap of honour. Shah Rukh in a white hoodie, dada in the Pune shirt he has reportedly been forced to wear by Shah Rukh.

They all know, though, that the winners on the night have been those who packed Eden Gardens in the May heat, who have shown both their knowledge of the game by not booing the team that represents them, and their respect for their dada. Class toh class.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ponmuhil on May 9, 2012, 17:53 GMT

    A very beautiful written article .. simply loved the narration and also ur writing sid .. things like these are a rarity in today's world .. a man who is idolised and scripted in the hearts of his fans.. and fans who have an extreme emotional bond with their star.. never letting him down in any circumstance

  • Trakkan on May 9, 2012, 14:55 GMT

    After having seen many India- Pakistan matches in 80s and 90s I can say that it was Sourav who made Indian team believe that we can defeat them. 9 out of 10 matches we used to lose to Pakistan in those days. It changed from 1996 Sahara cup. In the past 20 years Indian cricket has seen 2 great leaders - Sourav and Dhoni. Both are different leaders as Sourav is aggressive and Dhoni is cool but all success is due to them. One has to also admit there was a great batting trio - Sachin, Dravid and Laxman in addition to Kumble. Unfortunately he is struggling with PWI but IPL is hardly a bench mark for greatness.

  • dmqi on May 9, 2012, 10:41 GMT

    I THINK DADA IN LOVED MORE BY THE GHOTIS THAN THE BANGALS. NOW IT IS TIME FOR HIM TO CLOSE BUSINESS.

  • natmastak_so-called on May 9, 2012, 10:03 GMT

    thanks Sid for a lovely article.mind you I'm not a Bengali , nor a ganguly fan .

  • on May 9, 2012, 4:04 GMT

    This is a tribute to the Eden crowd and Kolkata cricket lovers..... We love DADA nobody can replace him in our hearts but we love our side KKR as well... It was a match well played by the Eden crowd....

  • on May 9, 2012, 3:25 GMT

    A wonderful read. Dare I say, I was more entertained reading this write-up than I was watching the actual match.

  • on May 8, 2012, 18:37 GMT

    Comment from Pakistan : Ganguly is not Kolkata's best. He is India's best ever. The man who changed the face and pace of Indian Cricket forever. Created a new India which was not intimidated abroad. Tendulkar remains statistically superior and Dravid's grit is legendry but Dada beats both of them hollow on count of his aggression, courage, competitiveness and those princely cover drives. Hail the great warrior !!!

  • bismoy on May 8, 2012, 17:18 GMT

    @Joydeep_Gupta yes scoring 14 in 18 balls in 20-20 match is called class.

    Sorry but ganguly is just a good batman,He avg 40 in test and had strike rate 0f 73 in odi.

    What is suprising that even dravid outscoring him in ipl.

  • JoydeepGupta on May 8, 2012, 16:13 GMT

    brilliant article Sid.Absolutely agreed with you - "Class toh Class"..!!

  • on May 8, 2012, 14:49 GMT

    One of the deepest moments ever i felt in a cricket stadium occurred when being caught at midwicket Ganguly was coming back to his Pune dugout amidst the Amitabh Bachchhan sung song " jodi tor dak sune keu na ase tobe ekla cholo re". Found a man sitting besides me, with tears in his eyes, suddenly jumped up and shouting hysterically " get up everybody, this man is probably coming out of Eden pitch for the last time."

  • Ponmuhil on May 9, 2012, 17:53 GMT

    A very beautiful written article .. simply loved the narration and also ur writing sid .. things like these are a rarity in today's world .. a man who is idolised and scripted in the hearts of his fans.. and fans who have an extreme emotional bond with their star.. never letting him down in any circumstance

  • Trakkan on May 9, 2012, 14:55 GMT

    After having seen many India- Pakistan matches in 80s and 90s I can say that it was Sourav who made Indian team believe that we can defeat them. 9 out of 10 matches we used to lose to Pakistan in those days. It changed from 1996 Sahara cup. In the past 20 years Indian cricket has seen 2 great leaders - Sourav and Dhoni. Both are different leaders as Sourav is aggressive and Dhoni is cool but all success is due to them. One has to also admit there was a great batting trio - Sachin, Dravid and Laxman in addition to Kumble. Unfortunately he is struggling with PWI but IPL is hardly a bench mark for greatness.

  • dmqi on May 9, 2012, 10:41 GMT

    I THINK DADA IN LOVED MORE BY THE GHOTIS THAN THE BANGALS. NOW IT IS TIME FOR HIM TO CLOSE BUSINESS.

  • natmastak_so-called on May 9, 2012, 10:03 GMT

    thanks Sid for a lovely article.mind you I'm not a Bengali , nor a ganguly fan .

  • on May 9, 2012, 4:04 GMT

    This is a tribute to the Eden crowd and Kolkata cricket lovers..... We love DADA nobody can replace him in our hearts but we love our side KKR as well... It was a match well played by the Eden crowd....

  • on May 9, 2012, 3:25 GMT

    A wonderful read. Dare I say, I was more entertained reading this write-up than I was watching the actual match.

  • on May 8, 2012, 18:37 GMT

    Comment from Pakistan : Ganguly is not Kolkata's best. He is India's best ever. The man who changed the face and pace of Indian Cricket forever. Created a new India which was not intimidated abroad. Tendulkar remains statistically superior and Dravid's grit is legendry but Dada beats both of them hollow on count of his aggression, courage, competitiveness and those princely cover drives. Hail the great warrior !!!

  • bismoy on May 8, 2012, 17:18 GMT

    @Joydeep_Gupta yes scoring 14 in 18 balls in 20-20 match is called class.

    Sorry but ganguly is just a good batman,He avg 40 in test and had strike rate 0f 73 in odi.

    What is suprising that even dravid outscoring him in ipl.

  • JoydeepGupta on May 8, 2012, 16:13 GMT

    brilliant article Sid.Absolutely agreed with you - "Class toh Class"..!!

  • on May 8, 2012, 14:49 GMT

    One of the deepest moments ever i felt in a cricket stadium occurred when being caught at midwicket Ganguly was coming back to his Pune dugout amidst the Amitabh Bachchhan sung song " jodi tor dak sune keu na ase tobe ekla cholo re". Found a man sitting besides me, with tears in his eyes, suddenly jumped up and shouting hysterically " get up everybody, this man is probably coming out of Eden pitch for the last time."

  • nevilc on May 8, 2012, 14:18 GMT

    The whole drama between KKR and Dada and the Bengali divide has been beautifully scripted by Sid. Powerful observations bring out the intangible nuances of the Bengali psyche. And he sums up and concludes wonderfully. There have been many writings on the subject, but this one by Sid presents the complexity and contradictions with the simplicity of a great storyteller. The best writing on this subject as yet!

  • Rally_Windies on May 8, 2012, 14:12 GMT

    the Anderson Cummings incident shows the insularity in WI cricket ..

    Is Cummings ability of as a player deserving of a boycott ?

    If T&T and Jamaica boycotted every time someone is omitted , then every game in T&T and Jamaica should be empty...

  • biswarupc on May 8, 2012, 14:08 GMT

    One of the excellent articles ever read on our beloved DADA. Thank you Sidharth for describing the heart felt emotions which flows from our heart who has seen dada at those days when there were hardly anybody apart from Sachin to take away Indian cricket to the next phase. My salute to DADA and you.

  • on May 8, 2012, 14:03 GMT

    Every DADA fan and part of media talks about his aggressive captaincy and point fingers at other pune batsman or bowlers for Pune debacle. What is this aggressive captaincy if there is no leading from the front? Opening shirt and pumping muscle like rowdy's? Or running like a senseless teenage guy in the cricket field? Is that the notion of "aggressive cricket"?

    For all three match Pune has own, there was no mentionable contribution from him; actually he has dragged Pune down being the top worst strike rate in the IPL. Still he is being touted as phoenix. For what? Taking one/two wicket in entire IPL season, or failing match after match to bring Pune back to winning way.

    Anyway, none of them makes sense; his fans go to field to see his antics and some cricketing activity if possible by him. The true aggressiveness he showed when he won India Pak series single handedly in, or when he was god of off-side. But those days are long gone, what you see in media and field is his NAUTANKI

  • CricFan321 on May 8, 2012, 13:44 GMT

    I am from karnataka. Even i support dada. Even i feel he is the best captain of india... Good Work DADA...

  • on May 8, 2012, 13:10 GMT

    I remember the centuries, I remember the exquisite cover drives, the dance down the wicket and seeing the ball disappear into oblivion, I remember the aggression, I remember the defiance, I remember the man and the faith that he instilled in all of us…and after all these years I Remember that which is most important; 'It all began with Ganguly… Class toh class' !!!

  • p_cdhy on May 8, 2012, 12:09 GMT

    That's a nice piece of work, Sidharth! That's why we all love Cricinfo. Keep going!

  • Mangaloregr8 on May 8, 2012, 10:04 GMT

    I loved this article & loved the comments that supported Sourav. Sourav never asked anyone to call him Dada, it's the love of his fans. In last 2 decades one Indian cricketers have got a brand name like Dada has got. As a cricketer, Sachin is undoubtedly the best that world recognized. But the captainship & the way Dada has lead the Indian team bringing in most of current National players was outstanding effort.

  • on May 8, 2012, 8:23 GMT

    No one comes near the popularity Dada enjoys even though he is into his 40s....Dada is still going strong..Beware KKR

  • happy-go-lucky on May 8, 2012, 5:36 GMT

    Sid, You are a country mile ahead of the rest (Bhogle, Suresh Menon et. al). Agree with Silly.point, write a book, I'll book my copy.

  • Nalinraaja on May 8, 2012, 5:26 GMT

    DADA is a class act. It is absolute pleasure to see him playing. The captain looks as good as his team. Looks like Pune has failed to pick the right people in the auction and Yuvi's absence is also a major blow. I am sure he will lift the IPL trophy in 2013 when Yuvi also returns. We wish DADA all the best!

  • RohanBhalerao on May 8, 2012, 1:18 GMT

    WOW..! As beautiful as the emotions I went through "that" day! Hats off...

  • on May 7, 2012, 19:17 GMT

    from pakistan but only reason to watch ipl5 the the dada match i respect him as much i did inzmam

  • mahendarts123 on May 7, 2012, 19:07 GMT

    Since 1992 Aus v Sa wc match i have witnessed 75 p.c. matches live on TV featuring India.I stopped following them since Oct 2008 when Dada retired and the Tom Dick & Harry of Indian cricket were allowed to continue.There is a lot of difference between watching a match on tv set , from stadium , from dressing room and actually playing it.Saying that one doesn't need to be a genius to figure out what's going on and with more logic the deeper & correct answers to it.I am from Mumbai and i know why they promote that only kolkattans love dada . Likewise they have promoted many anti saurav with their gimmicks over a period so far :)The more they do the more fans come out in the open for Dadaaaaa . I had watched and will watch any ipl ties only for Dada .. as in every ipl.For the records he had won atleast 3 matches on his own .Secondly his team at most times had only discards ; for Not to forget many close matches his team lost .. but because of captaincy they made it atleast that far.GangHo

  • Priyank on May 7, 2012, 18:49 GMT

    pointless article... just a waste of time reading this....

  • bajaj17nitish on May 7, 2012, 18:43 GMT

    no matter how many world cup dhoni wins but DADA will always remain the one who made the INDIAN team,i love u dada,u will always be our hero and a true warrior. nitish bajaj from punjab.

  • on May 7, 2012, 17:49 GMT

    Where Team India is strongly stand today is because of The Prince of Kolkata Saurav Ganguly. This is Dada who teach Team India how to handle the pressure and become No. 1. Dada long live.

  • on May 7, 2012, 17:35 GMT

    We(DADA fans) don't want him to lift any trophy...We don't want to prove himself to anybody either... All we need is to watch him play as long as he want to do....

  • muski on May 7, 2012, 17:32 GMT

    Well this issue of Dada and Kolkatta is over hyped. Why dont we give SRK the credit where it is due. He threw this guy out when he was detrimental to the side. Now KKR is doing wonders without this dada and with another inspirational leader who is leading from the front with his performnace. In south India dada has a different meaning for us. For heavens sake leave the hype and get on with the game. He was a good captain and was a guy who bought agressiveness into our cricket. We are grateful to him for that and lets end this issue there.

  • Hayat22 on May 7, 2012, 17:18 GMT

    SG was a great player and is a legend, but he has over stayed his welcome. In this format, reputations hardly matter and you need to prove yourself in every game. And KKR in 2nnd position without him while PWI in 2nd position from bottom with him are the bototm lines that this sports model based on corporate culture would at the end of the day measure.I fail to understand how SG is considered indispensable in T20s when all his outings have hardly shown results in terms of the teams he has led.Just have a look at RR under Dravid or KXIP under AG. these teams were weaker than PWI, which certianly boasts formidable lineups, then how come they are ahead of it in rankings?The thing is it is always somebody else who is at fault: the management, coach, luck etc, but never Dada.It is this attitude of his diehards that get me annoyed.I mean 5 seasons should be enough to even out any of those factors and reveal your potential in this format. The fans of Dada support him irrespective of results!

  • silly.point on May 7, 2012, 17:01 GMT

    As an expat Bengali, I have been reading a lot about this match in the various local and national newspapers. None (and I do mean that) have captured the atmosphere with so much nuance, balance and beauty as this article. Sid, here's some free advice (which we Bengalis excel at): take a vacation from the bottle and write a book - you will give Guha / Bhogle a run for their money.

  • StatisticsRocks on May 7, 2012, 16:41 GMT

    It's not just in Bengal that dada is loved and respected. I am from south (Mysore) and we have immense respect for dada as he is the one who insitlled the killer instinct in team India and later Dhoni reaped the rewards of dada's hard work. It was dada who stood up to those who bullied us. Remember the natwest series in Eng where he took off his shirt. I still rate dada way over Dhoni any day.

  • Mr_Anonymous on May 7, 2012, 16:14 GMT

    Thanks for the excellent description. I wasn't there but your words make me appreciate the interesting feelings and conflict of emotions in the people (and why) much better.

  • on May 7, 2012, 14:56 GMT

    DADA IS THE SOLE WARRIOR IN CRICKET. NOT SACHIN OR DHONI.. FROM CHENNAI.. WILL SUPPORT DADA AND CAN FIGHT FOR DADA EVEN IF HE GOES 0 FOR ALL THE REMAINING INNINGS..YOU CANT HATE YOUR DAD, JUST BECAUSE HE IS OLD AND NOT WORKING... SAME WAY.. I CANT HATE OR AVOID DADA JUST BECAUSE HE IS OLD.. HE IS DAD A.......I LOVE YOU DADA... LUUVVVVVV YOU

  • on May 7, 2012, 13:54 GMT

    sahrukh have lost his half of d fans because of.......DADA...the warrior....

  • on May 7, 2012, 13:50 GMT

    Being a diehard Dada fan I loved this article. Thank you so much Sidharth! Btw, I think I saw you at Eden before the match. I'm a journalist too. :)

  • Tiptop32 on May 7, 2012, 13:38 GMT

    If at all there is a reason for me to follow IPL5 then it is one and only due to my beloved Dada. I am neither a Bengali nor a Marathi from Pune. I am from Pondicherry.

    Now PWI is my favourite team only because of my DADA. I will support whichever team DADA is associated to. Hats off to DADA. Don't say only Kolkatans sing for Dada. Dada has die hard fans like me all over India.

  • on May 7, 2012, 13:11 GMT

    Im a huge fan of Sourav Ganguly and the reason i watch IPL is Sourav Ganguly. I have been watching him play when i was 10 and i still cant forget those glorius cover drives, coming down the track and hitting sixes to long on and long off. I believe he still has a lot in him and he deserves full respect. Yuvraj singh, Harbhajan singh, MS Dhoni, Zaheer Khan, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and many more .. these all players have been his findings to Indian Cricket and now all these players are called legends. He still is the best captain that Indian Cricket has ever had. I still get tears in my eyes when i watch the pepsi commecial of sourav ganguly. He is a legend and he will always be. Captain will come and go, players will come and go, but no one will ever match the DIGNITY and FIGHTING SPIRIT with which Sourav Ganguly played. If i ever have a son i would like to name him Sourav, im that big a fan of his.

  • on May 7, 2012, 12:07 GMT

    if KKR is getting support then it because of SRK, girls irrespective of the performances will woo for SRK.....and about DADA he is leading a team which is one of the most ordinary lot barring SMITH no other is too dangerous and dependable for T20 so PWI is doing quite right......Liza Khan dont you think why you support KKR ...only cos of SRK.......well after DADA if indian team has got a positive and strong captain thats GAMBHIR so thinking about the future GAMBHIR is the reason KKR must get some fan followers not SRK a phoney onwer....

  • avinash4rose on May 7, 2012, 11:37 GMT

    Everyone try hard to make a split on bengalis based on ckt :(

  • avinash4rose on May 7, 2012, 11:32 GMT

    Lov towards Dada is Beyond boundries nt jus kolkata ..we luv him.. Its natural that kolkatians hav 2 suprt ter home team too.. Bt seems like kkr team s xploiting criket much 4 their gain.. Bangali players nt getng any benfits.. Gauti tryng xtrmely hard himself to hail as legend..!!! M frm krla..Through Dada ppl like me luvd Kolkata ppl too..u can suprt home team wel.. Bt make sure atleast bengal ckt too get any benifits

  • chrishb on May 7, 2012, 11:19 GMT

    WHY WE NEED TO CALL SAURAV AS "DADA" . THERE ARE SO MANY CRICKTER ARE ELDER AND MORE EXPERIENCED THEN HIM . WHY WE HAVE TO GIVE RESPECT TO HIM ONLY AND NOT OTHERS . IT SHOWS THAT DADA IS PROWDY.

  • on May 7, 2012, 11:16 GMT

    @@Arnab Banerjee Hit the nail on the head of Arnab Banerjee..........

  • on May 7, 2012, 11:14 GMT

    I watch Cricket(IPL) only for Ganguly(Dada).

  • on May 7, 2012, 11:09 GMT

    Ganguly's Retirement from IPL means, IPL miss certain section of TRP,Their interest is only DADA

  • on May 7, 2012, 10:14 GMT

    Hit the nail on the head Mr. Monga

  • ddc....... on May 7, 2012, 9:44 GMT

    a player has to be in top form to perform well in ipl just look at kohli he is going at 100 strike rate and failing just shows what bad form can do , same goes to ganguly, loose or win ganguly will be my fav player and im sure with little more luck pune will start winning

  • on May 7, 2012, 8:14 GMT

    I just watch IPL for Saurav Ganguly only. And I am unhappy with Pune's narrow defeats. The finishing of their match is not being done with perfection. Ganguly has to look in to it. The key players have to play all the matches. Uthappa, Raider, Smith, Mathewes & Dinda should not be substituted. Saurav should bat lower the order.They should try to make a aggressive strategy in the remaining matches..

  • on May 7, 2012, 8:10 GMT

    Being a Bengali, Indian fan and a Ganguly fan-in that order I thoroughly enjoyed the article. Ganguly was a great player but the most important thing in the man is his willingness to stand up and fight. He played mind games and installed a bit of spine amongst Indian players. He made India believe that they could fight and win, and perhaps that is his biggest legacy.

  • on May 7, 2012, 7:14 GMT

    i always siddhart monga's articles speciaaly those which he writes on gangulw ,true class to class hai!!!!!!!!

  • Emancipator007 on May 7, 2012, 7:09 GMT

    By the way, it's time to bust the myth that Gang is just a Bengal icon. He has been a pan-India icon for long (2nd only to Tendulkar in stature and fan following) and was supported by millions of non-Bongs in online forums everywhere during his fall from grace and subsequent Phoenix-like comeback in international cricket in 2006. Average fans resented the fact that a former, successful captain's fair name was dragged in mud then. It would be hypothetically almost akin to coach Gavaskar dropping winning captain Mark Taylor (barely scored runs for 2 years of his captaincy but was winning matches like Gang) to appoint S. Waugh/Warne as captain in Australia, then washing dirty linen in public. Average Aussies too would not have tolerated it. While MI/RCB has massive fan bases, PWI which barely registered on fans' radar last IPL is the most followed team this IPL only cos of 1 man.

  • siddharth.roy on May 7, 2012, 7:07 GMT

    Definitely Sourav is very highly respected in Kolkata as well as the entire country. We also saw a great turnout when he played against DD at Kotla. But my feeling is no individual is bigger than the game itself. I was a die hard DADA fan but I do understand that presently he is not fitted to play this format of the game and thus his ommission from KKR. I am a Bengali and a true KKR fan...and I will always be cheering for the name of the city of KOLKATA inspite of whosoevre plays against us

  • Emancipator007 on May 7, 2012, 7:05 GMT

    Noticed that Gang is an unlucky captain.Overseas bats(ABD,Smith,Morkel,Hodge,Peterson) and Indians(Chawla,Rayudu,Rohit)are winning impossible situations in slog overs/last over for their teams with bludgeoning,exhilarating stroekplay, gaining IMP points.No PWI player has played a singlehanded match winning knock.PW sadly had to bank on a geriatric captain(who has been performing his primary role as a 40 year-old skip marshaling his resources to keep opp to manageable/chaseable totals with aplomb)to win matches as a batter instead of other 5-6 batters. Last 2 matches should have been closed out by other batters,esp overseas and Robin(a dismal failure).Irony that Gang has hit 4s easily against Steyn,Morkel,Bollinger,Kallis,Malinga(while failing against spinners!)but OTHER Indian batters in other teams are struggling against them. He even slammed 4s against Praveen when internationals Samuels/Ryder were struggling against him! Luck matters sometimes for T20 tournament glories.

  • chandruvignesh on May 7, 2012, 6:21 GMT

    Dadaaa!! Dada forever!! Never thought he'd lose this IPL!!!!!!

  • on May 7, 2012, 6:13 GMT

    Ganguly is a great player but he is clearly past his prime. This year in the IPL, he has struggled to get going and some of the his innings he batted, he did not look like the Ganguly we have grown up watching and admiring. People can't expect him to bat like he did 10 years ago but it's difficult watching such a great player not realizing like Dravid that it's time to retire gracefully. What will happen to Ganguly next year when Yuvraj returns to the fold and perhaps the management debates about whether to retain Ganguly as a captain or appoint Clark! Also, if KKR did not make the necessary changes last year than the very public and sports commentators would have mocked the team for continuing to be the worst team in the IPL. As a Kolkata girl, I am happy we have a wining team, I would have liked for Ganguly to be part of it, but not at the cost of KKR performing badly. Also, Mr. Monga, your jealously oozes when you talk about Shahrukh, try not to be bias.

  • AsifKhan2012 on May 7, 2012, 5:50 GMT

    People in our country at times get over-excited and emotional over trivial issues. The media and some commentators in India is partly responsible for creating such hysteria because they have a great knack for exploiting incidents and trying to blow the issue out of proportion to attract more audience. Personally, I don't see what's the big deal of not retaining Dada is because every year in the IPL, players get traded to different teams and nothing is made out of it (Yuvraj Singh). I guess for the press trouble and controversy is news and easier to sell, especially since the team KKR is owned by a famous actor. It's unfortunate that KKR was not success when Dada was part of the team for three years but sometimes change is necessary to create something better. Lastly, nothing in life is permanent and no Cricket player can expect to play for the same team all their life. You move on and take up new challenges. Good luck to Dada and KKR for the remaining IPL matches.

  • on May 7, 2012, 5:24 GMT

    i love you dada still by last breath >>>>

  • kathikiran on May 7, 2012, 5:23 GMT

    05-05-2012 KKR vs PWI kkr might have won the match but DADA have won the hearts of kolkata fans what a legend with huge fan following all over the world hats off DADA luv u till my last breath..........

  • on May 7, 2012, 4:49 GMT

    Lovely article, expressing the emotions of sports follower. loved every bit of it

  • Rahul_78 on May 7, 2012, 4:38 GMT

    Sourav Ganguly has unarguably been one modern cricketer who has been able to divide the opinions and the passion that runs among 1 billion Indian fans to the maximum. Only the Indian fans know in their heart that of all the teams in this years IPL and irrespective of whom they support how they secretly wished the underdogs Pune lead by dada to do well. There is Rajstan lead by affable Rahul and MI marched by Sachin but their is one and only Warriors lead by the natural born leader Dada. What an anticlimax it is for Indian cricket fans that Pune has been languishing at the bottom of the heap with the likes of Deccan.

  • on May 7, 2012, 4:31 GMT

    Well said Sid... Crowd was indeed excellent on the night... But I do fail to understand what Gangly wants to prove by rambling along and humiliating himself for most part of it. The man is too great a legend to be remembered for his slow innings losing games for his side!!!

  • DEV_ME on May 7, 2012, 4:22 GMT

    A fantastic write ! I thoroughly enjoyed and could actually visualize the 3 days in Kolkatta. Having been a fan of Ganguly, the leader, and having a experienced Kolkatta's sports fever in the past, I can really identify with what is written. The awkward silence after Dada got out had to be experienced to be believed. Finally though I dont agree with murmur in your stand of "class toh class .." but I will always say, "Spirit toh Spirit, no one like Dada ..... "

  • on May 7, 2012, 4:16 GMT

    You forgot to mention another Bengali icon,Mithun Da

  • devblaster on May 7, 2012, 4:16 GMT

    sir why so much of srk in this article, he is a human being leave him alone, how can u say that srk was doing a pr excersie by taking dada on a lap of honour?? secondly- dada was the captain during ipl 3, kkr had a good team but they failed to qualify,(in fact only team who didnt qualify for 3 consecutive seasons) , and the way dada is playing for pune i think they did a great job by not taking dada in kkr again, dada is a legend a will always remain but now his body is not supporting him and his mind, so move on, we all love dada

  • on May 7, 2012, 3:59 GMT

    Gem! .. if there's one man in Indian cricket you want to support devoid of any rationale, or soundness of logic - it's Ganguly. Regardless of how bests and worsts - no one rouses passion like this man!

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  • on May 7, 2012, 3:59 GMT

    Gem! .. if there's one man in Indian cricket you want to support devoid of any rationale, or soundness of logic - it's Ganguly. Regardless of how bests and worsts - no one rouses passion like this man!

  • devblaster on May 7, 2012, 4:16 GMT

    sir why so much of srk in this article, he is a human being leave him alone, how can u say that srk was doing a pr excersie by taking dada on a lap of honour?? secondly- dada was the captain during ipl 3, kkr had a good team but they failed to qualify,(in fact only team who didnt qualify for 3 consecutive seasons) , and the way dada is playing for pune i think they did a great job by not taking dada in kkr again, dada is a legend a will always remain but now his body is not supporting him and his mind, so move on, we all love dada

  • on May 7, 2012, 4:16 GMT

    You forgot to mention another Bengali icon,Mithun Da

  • DEV_ME on May 7, 2012, 4:22 GMT

    A fantastic write ! I thoroughly enjoyed and could actually visualize the 3 days in Kolkatta. Having been a fan of Ganguly, the leader, and having a experienced Kolkatta's sports fever in the past, I can really identify with what is written. The awkward silence after Dada got out had to be experienced to be believed. Finally though I dont agree with murmur in your stand of "class toh class .." but I will always say, "Spirit toh Spirit, no one like Dada ..... "

  • on May 7, 2012, 4:31 GMT

    Well said Sid... Crowd was indeed excellent on the night... But I do fail to understand what Gangly wants to prove by rambling along and humiliating himself for most part of it. The man is too great a legend to be remembered for his slow innings losing games for his side!!!

  • Rahul_78 on May 7, 2012, 4:38 GMT

    Sourav Ganguly has unarguably been one modern cricketer who has been able to divide the opinions and the passion that runs among 1 billion Indian fans to the maximum. Only the Indian fans know in their heart that of all the teams in this years IPL and irrespective of whom they support how they secretly wished the underdogs Pune lead by dada to do well. There is Rajstan lead by affable Rahul and MI marched by Sachin but their is one and only Warriors lead by the natural born leader Dada. What an anticlimax it is for Indian cricket fans that Pune has been languishing at the bottom of the heap with the likes of Deccan.

  • on May 7, 2012, 4:49 GMT

    Lovely article, expressing the emotions of sports follower. loved every bit of it

  • kathikiran on May 7, 2012, 5:23 GMT

    05-05-2012 KKR vs PWI kkr might have won the match but DADA have won the hearts of kolkata fans what a legend with huge fan following all over the world hats off DADA luv u till my last breath..........

  • on May 7, 2012, 5:24 GMT

    i love you dada still by last breath >>>>

  • AsifKhan2012 on May 7, 2012, 5:50 GMT

    People in our country at times get over-excited and emotional over trivial issues. The media and some commentators in India is partly responsible for creating such hysteria because they have a great knack for exploiting incidents and trying to blow the issue out of proportion to attract more audience. Personally, I don't see what's the big deal of not retaining Dada is because every year in the IPL, players get traded to different teams and nothing is made out of it (Yuvraj Singh). I guess for the press trouble and controversy is news and easier to sell, especially since the team KKR is owned by a famous actor. It's unfortunate that KKR was not success when Dada was part of the team for three years but sometimes change is necessary to create something better. Lastly, nothing in life is permanent and no Cricket player can expect to play for the same team all their life. You move on and take up new challenges. Good luck to Dada and KKR for the remaining IPL matches.