Forget austerity, West Bengal, and its Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, is ready to welcome Kolkata Knight Riders, which won the seventh edition of the IPL Sunday, with royal celebrations at Eden Gardens in Kolkata Tuesday.
The debt-ridden state government did it two years ago as well, when KKR won their maiden IPL crown. More than Rs 45 lakh was reportedly spent from the state coffers to felicitate the team and its owner Shah Rukh Khan. State sports minister Madan Mitra Monday promised to make the victory party Tuesday even bigger.
“Kolkata has changed from city of joy to city of sports. Our team played like champions to win the IPL and we will give them a royal felicitation,” Mitra said after a high-level meeting with the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) officials and Kolkata police officials at Nabanna.
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The hour-long programme will begin 1pm and entry is free for the fans. They, however, have to collect their passes from local police stations.
Meanwhile, Mamata has rescheduled her North Bengal to welcome Shah Rukh and his boys. She said her government is doing this on public demand. “We will felicitate KKR in Kolkata for IPL victory. There is a public demand,” Mamata tweeted.
“Am coming to Kolkata to join the party,” said Robin Uthappa, the Orange Cap holder of IPL 7 with 660 runs. Uthappa described how they celebrated last night after winning the title. “We returned to hotel, cut the cake, checked in at the bar and let our hair down. We danced till early hours. As always, SRK led the show,” he told The Indian Express.
Manish Pandey, whose 50-ball 94 helped KKR overcome a stiff target, was ecstatic. “Can’t explain how happy I am,” he said. Yusuf Pathan boasted of his three IPL winner’s medals —- two of them in KKR colours and one as a Rajasthan Royals in the inaugural season of the IPL.
KKR players, along with the team’s co-owner Juhi Chawla, arrived here Monday evening to a grand welcome. Skipper Gautam Gambhir was greeted by state urban development minister Firhad Hakim and sports minister Mitra. Two key overseas members, Sunil Narine and Morne Morkel, however, were absent.
Narine has left for the Caribbean. Fast bowler Morkel, too, has left for his native South Africa.
The CAB, however, hasn’t forgotten Wriddhiman Saha, who scored a 55-ball 115 not out for Kings XI Punjab in the final. Saha returned home but looked dejected. “I would have been happier to see my team winning the title. Congratulations to KKR. They’ve played better cricket,” he said.
.”Tomorrow is KKR’s party. We will have a special evening with Wriddhiman Saha too, soon,” CAB treasurer Biswarup Dey said.