Kolkata: Eden Gardens may be the official home venue for the Kolkata Knight Riders, but come May 5 a majority of Kolkatans - from celebrities to the man on the street - seem to be gearing up emotionally to back their eternal favourite "Dada" Sourav Ganguly, who will lead the Pune Warriors out on the historic ground.
The much awaited IPL clash, which many are saying would be a `home` tie for Pune, has already generated tremendous interest. The entire quota of tickets set aside for online booking have been sold, and police had to baton charge sports buffs, who had gone on the rampage after failing to procure tickets Sunday despite standing in the queue for hours before ticket counters.
The match is being variously touted as "Dada vs SRK (Knight Riders co-owner Shah Rukh Khan) and as a derby, with Ganguly set to use for the first time ever the visiting team dressing room and dug out on a ground where he honed his cricketing skills from a young age.
Ganguly, who led the Knight Riders in the early editions of the tournament, was shown the door last year after a controversy-laden three year association.
The prince of Kolkata has done his bit to further electrify the atmosphere. "Eden is my ground. Eden is always a home match for me," he said.
Passion for Ganguly is at its peak, especially after his lion-hearted captaincy in early matches leading a team regarded as the weakest in strength and star value.
Kalyan Ranjan Ray, a retired central government employee, said he would be glued to the television to see Dada`s team in action.
"Of course I am with Pune Warriors. Both myself and my wife have been watching the IPL on TV, especially the matches of Dada`s Pune. We will support Pune because nowadays we hardly have any idol in our state. In that respect, Ganguly is something. He increased our prestige. After Pataudi, he is the only Indian captain who could look into straight into the eyes of the foreigners, without being the least cowed down," said Ray.
Communist Party of India - Marxist leader and former West Bengal minister Ashok Bhattacharya echoed Ray.
"My support will be for Sourav`s team. He is more a Kolkatan than the entire Kolkata Knight Riders team. All the people of Bengal have always been with Sourav. May 5 will be no exception," he said.
Actress Sreelekha Mita confesses that she is not following the IPL, bit her heart is with the home spun hero."I wish dada all the best," she said.
Sanghita Dasgupta, a school teacher in her 30s, is all praise for Ganguly`s contribution and honesty.
"I will support Pune because of Sourav. He is one of our most successful captains, who has contributed immensely to Indian cricket. He is a Bengali, and he is honest like Sachin Tendulkar."
However, the Dasguptas are a household divided on the game. Sanghita`s husband Sandipan, a central government gazetted officer, would egg on the Knights. "After all they are the home team."
T.P Dutta, a 32-year old private banker, is on the same page as Sandian.
"For me, a team is much more important than an individual. I will root for Knight Riders, which represents Kolkata. I know people like us will be in minority on May 5, but I am firm in my stand," he said.
Even the netizens are infected by the May 5 bug. A post on social networking site Facebook favours Ganguly`s team. It points out that Pune Warriors` management stood by Dada when it was most needed, while accusing Knight Riders of having "insulted Dada multiple times".
But again there are some who only want to enjoy a good game.
"My support is neither with Pune, nor with Kolkata Knight Riders. My support is for cricket, for better cricket," said former national selector and Raji trophy winning captain Sambaran Banerjee.