Indian Premier League 2016: No Chennai flavour this summer

first_imgWe are two days away from the start of yet another Indian Premier League season. The preparations for the lucrative league are on at breakneck speed. The opening ceremony, with big names from Bollywood Katrina Kaif, Ranveer Singh and Yo Yo Honey Singh, promises glitz and glamour. The organisers released a theme song for IPL 9 during the fag end of the ICC World Twenty20 – perfect timing. This time though the ‘catchy’ song that is doing the rounds on our television screens is in Tamil. Get the irony? There is no team from the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu after its home team Chennai Super Kings was suspended for two years due to the spot-fixing scandal. (David Miller raring to go as Kings XI Punjab captain )The IPL seasons in the last eight years took Chennai by storm. It was fluttering in an otherwise calm city when Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Men in Yellow played at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. The sea of yellow that thronged the gates of the stadium every match-day would tell us the story.The fans in Chennai (previously Madras) were known for their love of cricket. The fandom that the local team Jolly Rovers had enjoyed is unmatched.  “There can be little doubt that over the last half a century Jolly Rovers has been the dominant side in Tamil Nadu cricket. Think of Tamil Nadu cricket and inevitably the name that springs to mind is Jolly Rovers, the most feared and respected opponents in Chennai that was Madras,” veteran Indian sports journalist Partab Ramchand had said. (Full Indian Premier League 2016 coverage )advertisementLikewise, when the IPL generation in the city got their own club in Chennai Super Kings, they couldn’t resist, they gave it their all and made it one of the most followed clubs in the eight-year history of the league.  For Dhoni, Chennai’s adopted son, it has not been easy to move on, just like the way it has been for millions of CSK loyalists.  “After spending eight years at Chennai Super Kings, it feels very different. I have to give credit to the CSK and the people of Chennai for their love and affection over the last eight years. I would be lying if I say I have moved on. It’s not easy to turn away and forget those eight years. There is an obvious emotional connect,”he said during the jersey launch of his new IPL team Rising Pune Supergiants.Former CSK mainstay Suresh Raina, who is now the skipper of Gujarat Lions says the experience with his Chennai franchise was a different cult and that CSK had a religious fan following. (IPL no yardstick for Test, ODI selection, says Zaheer Khan )”We were superstars in Chennai and to understand what I’m saying, one had to be there to see it. It was almost like a different cult, a different religion and we were treated like gods,” he said.The Super Kings were the most consistent team in the eight seasons of the league. They had won the IPL title twice and the Champions League twice as well. Out of the eight seasons, they had reached the final six times. Dhoni and his men gave their fans millions of reasons to cheer. Not once, the team had a smooth sail into the last-four stages of the team. There were always involved in dramatic finishes which won more followers for the team. Fans became fanatics. However, on-field consistency was not the only reason for the huge fan following they enjoyed.Sudio Sudarsan, a professor of Marketing from Hult International Business School calls CSK ‘the most intimate team to its fans, the cricket brand of the common man.'”I’d award CSK full marks in every facet of the complex branding process, especially the potential to build equity by capitalizing on the emotional relationship it shares with CSK fans that derive strength and a sense of identity from their affiliation with their team,” Sudarsan was quoted as saying by, the promotional activities of the team were largely based on the local flavor of the city. The official anthem of the team goes by the name ‘Whistle Podu’, a Tamil song based on folk genre. Dhoni himself was part of the theme song. Fans related to the yellow colour of the jersey.The club’s social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook had constantly come up with interactive videos to keep the fans hooked. The ‘Superlocal Challenge’ series on Youtube was an instant hit among the fans. In one episode, the then CSK players tried their hand at imitating Rajinikanth, the Superstar of Tamil cinema.advertisementNow with the suspension of the two teams, fans have nothing but memories. People returning from a long day at work no more have to curse the Men in Yellow for the traffic congestion on the roads leading to Chepauk. There will be no Super Kings at least for the next two years. The parody accounts on Twitter will no more be as active as they were when the Men in Yellow took the field.When India lost to West Indies in the semi-final of the recently concluded World T20,  all-rounder Dwayne Bravo, who was playing for CSK, tweeted a photograph with Dhoni saying, “Win, lose or draw …always #macha #champion #respect.”‘Macha’ is a term any proud Chennai local can relate to. The fans back in the city would have been happy to see the ‘macha’ bond between their stars. All that they can do now is wait, wait with a heavy heart, for these two years to pass by.  The IPL, this season, will definitely not be the same without the Men in Yellow.last_img

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