Thousands of frenzied fans join KKR celebrations

Kolkata: Thousands of frenzied fans Tuesday turned up to give the triumphant Kolkata Knight Riders players a grand reception for their maiden IPL title win after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee felicitated them at her office here.

More than 50,000 people lined up on both sides of the road from Hamza at South Kolkata to the Eden Gardens after the victory procession started at 11.10 am (local time).

Frenzied scenes were seen all along the 5-km stretch as the KKR players celebrated the victory on an open bus top with the fans making desperate attempts to touch them. Thousands of fans gathered at the Jatin Das Park crossing at Hazra, from where the parade began, with people throwing bouquets at the players. But with the team co-owner Shah Rukh Khan, who landed at the city late Monday night, missing there was some visible disappointment among the crowd.

It was, however, a celebration reminiscent of India`s World Cup victory last year as the entire city went purple with many coming from various parts of the state wearing Knight Riders team colours.

The victory lap began from Hazra with two vehicles, one with the triumphant team members and the other had the celebrities dancing and waving to the frenzied crowd gathered on both sides of the street. They had the first stop at Jadu Babur Bazar for a short felicitation en route to the Writer`s Building via Akashvani Bhavan, the point from where the crowd were not allowed.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee felicitated the players at the Writer`s as the team made their way for the grand celebration at the Eden Gardens, organised by the state government, Kolkata Municipal Corporation and Cricket Association of Bengal.

Skipper Gautam Gambhir`s three Bengali words "ami Kolkatar chhele" (I am son of the city) won the hearts of fans gathered to welcome `home` the Knight Riders who beat two-time defending champions Chennai Super Kings to win their maiden title in five appearances.

"Thank you very much for your support," Gambhir added as the crowd danced to the drum beats when the team members arrived around 10.30 pm (local time) Monday night.

Venky Mysore, the CEO of the Knight Riders, and coach Trevor Bayliss were among those on the crowded makeshift dais just outside the VIP Gate number five.

As many as 54 passengers on the Chennai-Calcutta flight were from the KKR contingent, including the families of some of the players and the support staff. The foreign players in the team didn`t board the flight.

Team owners Shah Rukh Khan, Jay Mehta and Juhi Chawla arrived around 11.45 pm as they were thrilled at the crowd response late into the night. There were also a bevy of Trinamool Congress ministers, party leaders and officials of the Cricket Association of Bengal who were waiting with bouquets and garlands as they jostled for the limelight on the makeshift dias.

For many of the fans, however, it was a long wait as they came to know that the players would arrive in two batches with more than three hours delay. But they waited patiently, dancing to the drum beats and waving KKR flags.

Slogans like `Three cheers for KKR, hip hip hurrah`, `KKR, KKR`, `Shah Rukh, Shah Rukh` rent the air as fans dressed in KKR jersey and carrying purple flags gathered at the airport. Many had come with lifesize posters of Shah Rukh Khan and team captain Gautam Gambhir. There were also posters with congratulatory messages.