It's Dada vs rest at Eden today: Bhutia
Having switched over from football giants East Bengal to arch-rivals Mohun Bagan and vice versa multiple times in his two decade-long stint as one of the country's top strikers, former India football captain Baichung Bhutia is no stranger to Kolkata's fans and their fury.
It’s no wonder then that he can predict what Sourav Ganguly will experience today as he steps on to the hallowed turf at Eden Gardens leading a visiting Pune Warriors India against hosts Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League.
“Sourav will be celebrated by the crowd as he takes the field today. Kolkata will leave no stone unturned in giving their son of the soil a rousing welcome despite the fact that he will leading a visiting team against a host outfit,” Bhutia told MiD DAY from his home in Sikkim yesterday.
“The people of Kolkata simply love Sourav. He’s made numerous comebacks in the Indian cricket team too. He is a hero here and he is the only reason Eden Gardens will be filled to capacity. It does not matter, who is in the opposition — Kolkata Knight Riders or any other team. For the Kolkata crowd, it’s Dada vs the rest today,” stressed Bhutia.
Thankfully though, today’s cricket crowd will not be as hostile as their football counterparts. “In Kolkata, you are either born an East Bengal fan or a Mohun Bagan fan, so that’s an in-born thing, while cricket has an acquired following, so there’s no die-hard fanfare here.
Besides, the football crowd comprises more of the masses, who are generally from the lower middle-class section of society, while cricket fans belong to the middle class.
So, while the football fans at the Salt Lake Stadium are notorious for pelting stones and hurling abuse at players, the cricket fans will be better behaved. It should be a great game, made even better if Kolkata’s Dada comes up trumps,” Bhutia signed off.