In a guest column for The Week, Glenn McGrath says:
For me, the defining moment of the DLF Indian Premier League was at the Eden Gardens on May 13, when Kolkata Knight Riders bowler Shoaib Akhtar dismissed Delhi Daredevils captain Virender Sehwag. The cheer around the stadium was deafening even though an Indian batsman had just got out to a Pakistani bowler. In April, I had written that it will take city loyalties a bit of time to take root in the IPL circuit, but it has happened sooner than anybody imagined, and the sight at Eden Gardens encapsulated the intensity of these loyalties. Country affiliations have been suspended for a bit, and right now I am as much of a Dilliwala as Viru!
I'm sure this thought -- about a very partisan Indian audience (remember World Cup semis in 1996?) cheering a Pakistani bowler against one of our own -- has occurred to a lot of us. But it's still nice to see it articulated in print.
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Following Badri (one of the founders of Cricinfo.com), I too have a confession to make: I'm hooked on IPL! While the Bangalore Royal Challengers haven't done much to cheer us, the other team we are rooting for -- the one from the very hot Chennai with a very cool captain -- is still in the race to reach the semis. My inner Chennaiyan will be rooting for Rajasthan Royals against the Mumbai team tomorrow. I know it's shady to wish for someone else's downfall so your favorite gets ahead, but I figured, all's fair in war and cricket ...
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Update: Rahul Basu has a post about the Royals vs. Super Kings match he went to in Chennai, where the fans tend to be significantly less partisan (I still remember the time -- several years ago -- when they cheered the Pakistani team celebrating a comprehensive win over India with a victory lap!). When Rahul says (see his comment below) the fans had a good time despite the Chennai Super Kings's loss, it's consistent with the Chennai fans' past behaviour.