'Watched Chennai Super Kings while I underwent chemotherapy'
Disappointed Chennai Super Kings' fan Prashanth Prakasam, who underwent treatment for leukaemia says he may not watch IPL if MS Dhoni’s team doesn’t figure in T20 extravaganza
Among the countless disappointed Chennai Super Kings fans post the two-year suspension of the Indian Premier League franchise is Prashanth Prakasam.
Prakasam (27) is no ordinary fan. He was a cancer patient, who draws inspiration for CSK and their captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
CSK fan Prashanth Prakasam wearing a jersey signed by the 2012 CSK squad and holding a bat autographed by the team at his residence in Chennai yesterday. PIC/Klik Ravi
Earlier this week, the RM Lodha committee slapped a two-year suspension on CSK and Rajasthan Royals for their alleged role in the 2013 IPL spot fixing scandal.
“I am disappointed to hear about the suspension. I think if there is no CSK in the IPL, some fans like me won’t watch IPL at all,” said Prakasam.
Prakasam resides in Saligramam area of Chennai. A civil engineer, he is now a Senior Engineer in technical sales at Zamil Steel Buildings India Pvt Ltd.
“What a great side CSK are. If you notice, they have retained their core players... Dhoni of course, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin. I also feel CSK have given the Indian team some fine players. It’s a class outfit, which is very well led and organised. Look how well Ashish Nehra is bowling at CSK. The team embodies professionalism and teamwork. Just because one person does something (referring to Gurunath Meiyappan) it does not mean the entire set-up is bad. Of all the teams, CSK owners are seen the least. They don’t seek publicity and let us not forget India Cements have promoted cricket for a long time.”
Prakasam has been in hospital a few times in the last three years
and admitted to even watching a CSK game on television while undergoing chemotherapy for leukaemia which he was diagnosed with in July 2012. He said: “There were times when I would go into the common room with the chemo drugs being administered and catch the action when CSK played. During those three hours, I would forget my pain and enjoy the moments.
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“Dhoni is such an inspirational leader. He never gives up. He has even made it possible when his team has had to defend 160. He gives me hope. He inspires me, makes me believe that even I can defend my life and come out of impossible situations.”
In 2012, before leaving for USA to study at North Carolina State University, Prakasam went for a routine blood test, where he learnt of his condition. Leukaemia had a crushing effect on him.
Has underwent two phases of tough chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant from his sister. All this left him 23 kgs lighter. In December 2013, Prakasam suffered a relapse. “I had to undergo one round of severe chemo and a stem cell transplant yet again,” he said. His only source of joy came from following CSK.
Amidst adversity and pain, Prakasam received a dollop of cheer when a member of the CSK promotions team presented him with a signed bat as well as an autographed jersey of the 2012 CSK squad, organised by his Singapore-based cousin Vivek. “I was really pleased, very touched. I also won a contest on radio for which I was sent stuff to have a small party at my home while watching a CSK match,” said Prakasam.
“I’m glued to the telly whenever CSK play. I watch them sometimes at the Chidambaram Stadium and when I did so during the last season, I was able to feel normal and enjoy the game like any other spectator in the stands — shouting and cheering for the side. At times, I manage to get a complimentary pass, but most times I pay for my ticket. CSK inspires me to deal with my troubles. I hope the team stays in the league.”
At home, his mother Rajalakshmi and younger sister Akshaya are always by his side. “My mother is a very strong lady, much more strong than me. She has handled this upheaval bravely and my sister Akshaya is my pillar. The stem cell transplant was done from her. I am so thankful to her,” he said. Prashanth's late father KV Prakasam was an IRTS officer with the Indian Railways.
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Sometimes, he joins his mates for a game of cricket. His illness makes him feel weak on the field, but bowling his brand of left-arm spin gives him the same kind of thrill as watching his favourite team. As of now, in his own words, “things are good. I am hoping and praying things continue like this. I’m normal. There are side effects to endure although it does not hinder the quality of life.”
Prakasam has learnt to deal with the ebb and flow of life. Like a gritty batsman, he soldiers on.
He deserves CSK’s trademark whistle podu.