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Black takes on red at Eden Gardens tonight

There is the searing May heat and there is cricket fever.

Kolkata is shivering with excitement despite King Khan’s Kolkata Knight Riders having lost four Indian Premier League matches in a row.

Probably aware of the heat in the city, Juhi Chawla, Shahrukh Khan’s partner in Red Chillies Entertainment, arrived in spotless white. Before slithering into the Mercedes Benz she told reporters that she was confident that her team would win today against the Bangalore Royal Challengers. “I am going to pray to Ma Kali for a win,” she said wearing her charming smile.

King Khan arrived past 2pm in a white T-shirt and jeans and was mobbed by reporters. Asked about the performance of his team he said, “Well, it has not gone too well lately. We will come back. We are down but we are not out. Today we will win and make a come back,” SRK said, not looking or sounding too confident.

He added that the Eden Gardens is full when matches are played and that’s a good thing. “I am sure the same will happen today. When we played in Bangalore they treated us well and when they play in Kolkata we will treat them well too.”

When reporters told him that Vijay Mallya who owns the Bangalore Royal Challengers, had sacked his CEO Charu Sharma and coach Venkatesh Prasad for the dismal performance of the team and whether he would do the same, King Khan said, “He leads his life I lead mine.”

The Bollywood superstar will garland a statue of Rabindranath Tagore today on the Noble Laureate poet’s 147th birth anniversary. He will pay homage to Tagore much before the match begins.

A host of celebrities are due before the match begins at 8pm under the flood lights at Eden Gardens, which has had the distinction of going on the blink once already.

Earlier, the city received cheerleaders of both the Kolkata Knight Riders and Bangalore Royal Challengers. Svelte cheerleaders pranced out of the airport and climbed into waiting buses, the controversy over their skimpy clothes and lewd comments from the stands notwithstanding.

Meanwhile, work on the pitch at the Eden Gardens has been completed and the grounds man has certified it fit for playing. He also expressed his satisfaction at the way the pitch has been prepared and felt it likely to help the batsmen.

The Knight Riders had pinned quite a bit of hope on Shoaib Akhtar, the Rawalpindi Express in this match. But he is not playing this time. The Bangalore Royal Challengers are way down in the list and that may be some cause for comfort.

There is one difficulty though that cricket fans will face. The Trinamool Congress has called for an hour’s road block all over Kolkata from 6pm to 7pm to protest the alleged violence perpetrated by the Communist Party of India – Marxist in Nandigram. This is likely to inconvenience spectators who have to start out early to reach Eden Gardens.

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