Guess which is a Keralite’s favourite IPL team? Rajasthan Royals, of course. Simply because they are led by Kerala’s very own Sanju Samson. So a good part of the 36 million people in the southern Indian state will be cheering the Rajasthan Royals for each of their games in the Indian Premier League.
In fact, there are three Malayalis (people from Kerala) in the Rajasthan team. The parents of Devdutt Padikkal and Karun Nair hail from Kerala, although the two cricketers have spent much of their lives and learnt their cricket in Bangalore. Moreover, they represent Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy cricket tournament.
Never mind that. They are still Keralites. And hopefully, speak Malayalam at home. That’s good enough. Three Keralites in a team is more than what Malayalis can dream of. So they have taken the Rajasthan Royals to heart.
The franchise seems to reciprocate the love from Kerala, which calls itself God’s Own Country to promote itself as a tourist destination. On Sunday, the Rajasthan Royals’ cricketers were clad in lungis (a popular attire in Kerala) as they left Mumbai for Pune to play their next game at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium.
In photos and videos posted on Twitter and Instagram, Rajasthan Royals players were clad in black lungis, although some seem to struggle with it. Samson didn’t have much qualms sporting a lungi as he led the lungi-brigade in a post that said: “Wassap Machan”.
Jos Buttler looked elegant in a lungi as he posed with Samson in a post that read: “Adipoli Buttler Chettan”. That loosely translates into “Stunning Buttler Bro”. Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal also posted a photo with Buttler, captioning it: “Just like Jai-Veeru (characters from the hit Bollywood movie, Sholay).
Chahal shared another photo, which also included Riyan Parag and Shimron Hetmyer, wearing the traditional Kerala lungi. West Indian batsman Hetmyer retweeted it and wrote: “This is the best way to travel.” Yashasvi Jaiswal too was seen sporting one in another photo posted by Rajasthan fielding coach Dishant Yagnik with the hashtag LungiGang.
Shoes with lungi? Never mind that too. Lungi is the flavour of the week for the Rajasthan Royals, a tribute to their captain and two other players with roots in Kerala. Rajasthan seem to be enjoying one of their best seasons since the trophy-winning inaugural season in 2008.
The Rajasthan Royals, who are on a high after defeating the Delhi Capitals on Friday, play the Royal Challengers Bangalore tomorrow (Tuesday). They are currently placed third in the IPL 2022 points table. If they go on to win the title this year, we might be in for a lungi dance.
Keralites will certainly join them.