DUBAI // Two of the IPL’s youngest fans will scream and shout along with diehard supporters when they take their seats for back-to-back matches with their cricket-mad parents on Friday.
Nine-month-old Krisha Javeri and one-year-old Maahir Javeri will get their first taste of the sport at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Cricket Stadium when they attend the afternoon and night games. “There will be a lot of yelling and shouting even among our family because each of us supports a different team and player,” said Krisha’s mother Radha, who will travel from her home in Dubai with 10 relatives to watch the games.
They will first watch the Chennai Super Kings, or CSK, led by Indian captain MS Dhoni, take on Kings XI Punjab at 2.30pm and later the 6.30pm game between the Sunrisers Hyderabad and the Rajasthan Royals.
“I’m from Mumbai but I support Dhoni and CSK and my husband either backs or is totally against CSK,” Radha said. “My brother is in Bahrain and keen to come, but we can’t get him a ticket – and there is no way we will give him ours.”
Her sister-in-law, Neha Javeri, is also excited about catching Saturday afternoon’s game at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium to cheer her favourite team the Mumbai Indians.
“My son likes to yell, as all children do, so he should be fine,” said Neha, mother of one-year-old Maahir.
“The kids will enjoy all the cheering. We’re going with family to the Abu Dhabi matches on Friday and then with friends on Saturday. If my son is not cranky we’re hoping to stay for the second match in Dubai also.
“We always wanted to go for the IPL but it was in India. We’re so happy it’s happening in the UAE because it’s different watching it on TV compared to seeing it live in front of you,” Neha said.
The IPL is also an opportunity to catch well-known players from outside of India, such as Australian bowler Mitchell Johnson, a key paceman in the King’s XI Punjab squad.
“I have always wanted to watch Mitchell Johnson bowl to know what it is to face such a quick bowler,” said Shorye Chopra, 17, who recently played in the UAE under-19 squad and has just completed his Grade 12 exams.
“My friends and I are diehard cricket fans and for us to see international players up close, anticipate how quickly they have to make decisions, this is a big thing.
“We couldn’t ask for any better after completing our exams. We hope to watch as many double header matches as possible,” said Shorye.
“We have a lot of rivalry among ourselves because some of us support Punjab or Hyderabad and the others support CSK. We keep track of the teams and have arguments on Facebook about who is the best.”
It is not only Indian fans who will be at the IPL games. Umar Shah, a Pakistani expatriate, will be in the ground with his Indian friends.
And they won’t be there just to watch the cricket. Bollywood stars such as Shah Rukh Khan, who owns the Kolkata Knight Riders, are yet another reason that Asian fans flock to IPL games.
“Azhar Mahmood is the only Pakistani cricketer playing in the IPL but I really want to spot Shah Rukh during the games,” said Umar, who works in the aviation sector.
“Watching cricket is primary of course, but I also want to see him. I will go for matches with my Indian friends who support Mumbai and I will support Shah Rukh, that’s the fun of it.”