Dubai: 26-yr-old cricket super fan gets dream chance to meet idols at IPL auction

Some residents didn't mind taking a day off their annual leaves and travelling to Dubai from across the Emirates just to watch the event

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Nandini Sircar

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Published: Tue 19 Dec 2023, 5:23 PM

Last updated: Wed 20 Dec 2023, 8:47 AM

Amidst a sea of cricket fans who trooped to Dubai's Coca-Cola Arena on Tuesday was 26-year-old Shraddha Acharya, who wore her brightest yellow Chennai Super Kings (CSK) shirt.

The first time she learnt that the IPL auction was happening in the emirate — where she has been living for 20 years — Shraddha knew she had to be there. And it was her idols, the CSK, who made it possible.

"They posted a story on Instagram asking us to send them a picture of yellow in Dubai. I had gone to the CSK finals in 2021 and I clicked a picture of the team lifting the cup with me in the background," Shraddha told Khaleej Times.

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She submitted the photo and won. On Tuesday morning, Shraddha was among the crowds of residents and tourists who lined the IPL auction red carpet, with their cameras ready for clicks. People just couldn't wait to catch a glimpse of the world's top cricketers.

Celebrities like Nita Ambani, who is known for her successful player acquisitions, and the co-owner of Punjab Kings and former actress Preity Zinta walked the aisle alongside cricketing stalwarts. This time, the 10 IPL franchises had a combined $31.5 million to spend as they geared up for intense bidding wars.

Some UAE residents didn't mind taking a day off their annual leaves just to witness the action.

But Shraddha was luckier than most — as she had the opportunity to meet and greet with the coach and the entire team of CSK ahead of the auction day. “The fact that the IPL auction is happening in Dubai is very exciting," she said.

17-year-old moves back to India for cricket

Travelling from India, Aryan Vinod was also among the fans who watched the auction. The 17-year-old used to live in the UAE but made the decision to move back home for the love of cricket.

“I started playing cricket when I was 11 or 12. I am currently training in Mumbai for the Goregaon Sports Club in Mumbai. I am excited to see all the players and coaches in person," said the teenager said.

Practising four to five hours every day, Vinod has been into the sport for seven years now as a bowling all-rounder. "I aspire to eventually play for the Indian cricket team someday," he said.

Grade 11 student Kanishk Parekh travelled from Singapore, visiting Dubai for the first time. He may not be playing cricket but he has been watching the game since he was a boy.

“We came to check out what it’s like from the outside. I have been watching cricket since I was six. I don’t play cricket in Singapore since it’s a small country and they aren’t much into it. But I just came to get a feel of the place, even though from outside," he said.

Residents take the day off

Some residents just couldn't miss this IPL auction that they took a day off just for the event. Among them was a group of Indian and Pakistani expats, who came to Dubai all the way from different emirates.

Abu Dhabi resident Binil Basel said: “I wish Rachin Ravindran is the highest bid because Travis Head is already done now. I want Raviandran to go with Rajastan Royals.”

“According to me, the highest bid will be 15-16 crore (Rs150-160 million). Some people are saying Mitchell Starc. Then there is Shardul Thaku — the Indian all-rounder. He might go for 13 or 14 crore,” said Lovin Savy Abrahim who had come from Sharjah.

Pakistani expat Mohammed Suhail, who works for Du, said: “I am all for Sanju Samson in Rajasthan Royals, Jos Buttler in Rajathan Royals. I am glad this is being hosted in Dubai and we’ve got the opportunity to be here. It couldn’t get better for cricketing fans.”

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