Dubai: The Indian Premier League’s decision to move the home matches of the Chennai Super Kings to Pune has not only left the ‘Whistle Podu’ fans heart-broken, but has also put a huge blot on Chennai’s cricketing legacy.
“The IPL governing council assessed the current situation in Chennai and a decision was taken to shift the matches from the MA Chidambaram Stadium to Pune,” a league statement said on Thursday.
“We had decided that we will host matches in Chennai only after we are promised foolproof security there. But today they (local authorities) informed CSK that they will not be able to handle security,” IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla told reporters on Wednesday.
The Yellow Brigade, which has been waiting with bated breath to see their stars in action after a two-year break due to the ban on Chennai Super Kings for corruption, will now have to wait another year to see them in action.
The fans were so starved that even the practice sessions of the Super Kings drew thousands of cheering supporters.
Super Kings all-rounder Shane Watson was among the first to comment.
“Very sad for our team @ChennaiIPL and the fans here in Chennai that we won’t be playing any more games here this season. The atmosphere last game was incredible. Let’s hope this situation in Tamil Nadu is sorted out asap,” the veteran Australian said on Twitter.
“I trust a ‘peaceful’ resolution is found soon for the problems at hand. Thanks to everyone for making the team so welcome,” said coach Stephen Fleming, the former New Zealand captain.
Senior batsman Suresh Raina also took to Twitter to say he would miss “our home ground” and the fans. “You are always in our hearts,” he added in the message.
There were several occasions this decade that the matches in Chennai had been disrupted due to various political reasons, with the Cauvery water issue being the reason for the current turmoil with some political parties even threatening to unleash snakes into the stadium.
In 2014, Chennai had to host four home games in Ranchi following a dispute between the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association and the local authorities.
A year earlier Sri Lankan cricketers or match officials did not travel to the city following growing political tensions stemming from the treatment of ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka.
“The security of those involved in the IPL, whether players, spectators or those working in the stadiums, is of paramount importance to the BCCI,” the statement said.
“The governing council decided that Sri Lankan players will not participate in the IPL 2013 league matches in Chennai and will advise the nine franchises accordingly.”
Turning the clock back a few decades the historic venue has witnessed some of the greatest cricketing moments, including the second tied Test between India and Australia.
Despite the political tensions between the arch rivals, the Pakistan cricketers were given a standing ovation when the Wasim Akram-led team went for a victory lap after defeating India by 12 runs during Pakistan’s tour of India in 1999. It was the first time the two teams met on Indian soil in over nine years.
Reacting to the crowd’s support, opener Sadagopan Ramesh, who made his debut in the match at his home ground, said: “Not at all. We were, in fact, happy the crowd acted with such grace.
“We were happy that the crowd showed respect for the opponent. I was proud to be a part of Chennai then. Wasim himself was completely surprised and delighted by the crowd’s response,” the left-hander was quoted by a website.
When Saeed Anwar hit a then-world record 194, surpassing Viv Richards, in the Pepsi Independence Cup in 1997, the left-handed opener was cheered all the way by the cricket-knowledgeable fans.
These moments are still etched in one’s memory, but what was witnessed during the match between Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders on Tuesday, a picture of Faf du Plessis walking with a shoe thrown by a fan at Ravindra Jadeja, reflects the sad state of affairs, which no cricketing fan of Chennai will be proud of.
Most of the fans in Chennai feel that politics and sports need to be kept aside and there are numerous other ways to show their protest. They are also of the view that it is due to the popularity of Chennai Super Kings and the success of the Indian Premier League that the matches have become an easy target of the protesters.
On the other hand the political parties and their supporters feel it is time to join hands and show solidarity with the farmers in the state, who go through numerous struggles due to water shortage.
But over the last few years was Chennai’s loss has been Pune’s gain. Super Kings skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and few of the star players from the franchise played for Pune over the last two years due to the ban, while now the entire team will be playing their six home games in the western Indian city, some 1,200 kilometres away.
— With inputs from agencies