It was a different ball game altogether when the Indian cricketers took on movie stars at the floodlit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in a maiden charity football match here.
The cricketers emerged victorious by a scoreline of 4-3 last night but they were given a run for their money by the All Star team led by Abhishek Bachchan.
The funds raised from the match went to the Magic Bus Organisation,which works for charity for underprivileged children. Virat Kohli launched the team for his foundation All Heart Football Club’ against the All Stars Football Club.
With ‘RK’ emblazoned on his back and the loudest cheers from the crowd every time he had the ball,the ‘Barfi’ star Ranbir Kapoor stole the show. He dribbled past defenders at ease,outpaced the cricketers,made numerous attempts at goal and capped off his night with a blistering strike from the edge of the penalty box.
The only blip was a missed penalty,which however he made up for by winning another one for his team. Earlier,the cricketers dressed in red and black,showed their prowess with the ball at their feat by smashing three goals in the first half.
They started off in an aggressive fashion with India cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni making a pin-point cross in the box from the right wing which was duly put at the back of the net by Tanmoy Mishra giving the ‘All Heart’ team the lead in the second minute of the game.
Though all for charity,the seriousness out on the field was evident with Yuvraj Singh shouting at every referee call against him,grimacing at every miss by his teammates.
Egged on by over 10,000 cheering crowd,the All Stars coached by former footballer Bhaichung Bhutia,equalised in the 10th minute with Shabbir Ahluwalia scoring the goal.
It was all Manoj Tiwary show after that with the Bengal cricketer showing his footballing skills with two neatly scored goals to give the All Heart team a 3-1 lead. Tiwary was later adjudged the Man of Match for his brilliant show.
Playing in humid conditions,the All Stars team managed to give a tough fight even though they went 4-1 down immediately after the resumption of play in the second half.
It was a Ranbir Kapoor show after that. He easily dodged and moved past Zaheer Khan on several occasions. He even tried a back flick which almost gave the All Stars a second goal.
But it came nonetheless moments later,when ‘RK’ was tripped in the box which was duly put away. Ten minutes into the second half,Dino Morea was tripped
in the box,but Ranbir’s lame shot from the resultant penalty was easily saved by All Heart goalkeeper Ishant Sharma.
But Ranbir was not to be denied a few minutes later,when he picked up a pass from Marc Robinson and smashed a thundering strike right into the top corner to make the
The All Heart team coached by footballer Sunil Chhetri,managed to survive the nervy moments and emerge victorious but not before getting a real scare from their opponents.
“The Indian cricketers are in a habit of winning matches with a scoreline of 4-0. We were scared we would get the same treatment,but all credit to our team especially Ranbir for having fought so brilliantly against the cricketers,” said All Stars captain Abhishek Bachchan after the match.
Talking about the team composition,vice-captain Ranbir,who was disappointed at having missed the penalty,said they had been practising for over six months now for the match.
“Everyone who was regularly practising with us today,was given a chance to play. There is nothing to be ashamed of in losing 4-3 and it was an honour to step up and compete against the mighty cricketers,” he said.
Talking about the prospect of arranging a revenge match,Abhishek said a few games were in the pipeline with talks doing the rounds that the two teams will square up again in Sikkim for Bhaichung Bhutia’a foundation.