A dazzling opening ceremony headlined by performances from singer Arijit Singh, actors Tamannaah Bhatia and Rashmika Mandanna set the stage for a tantalising IPL 2023 opener between defending champions Gujarat Titans and four-time winners Chennai Super Kings here on Friday.
As the IPL returns to the home-and-away format after four years, the Narendra Modi Stadium was jam-packed and for a moment, one would have been mistaken for the gathering to be the one from Chepauk in Chennai.
During the broadcast, despite the blue of Gujarat Titans being largely visible, it was thoroughly outsmarted by the yellow of Chennai Super Kings, with the decibel level going high whenever MS Dhoni’s picture appeared on the giant screen, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
As Mandira Bedi gave the opening address, just like she did at the WPL last month, the giant IPL logo was shining brightly in the middle. Around it were the logos of all ten teams, giving it the resemblance of the solar system.
The stadium suddenly began to give the feel of a live music concert with Arijit taking centre stage and the vociferous crowd joining him to sing along to his sensational chartbusters. Arijit began with simple yet melodious vocals and then hit the high notes, followed by taking a round of the ground in a buggy.
Gujarat skipper Hardik Pandya was glued to Arijit’s soulful performance while Chennai skipper MS Dhoni, who got the loudest cheers from the capacity crowd, was calmly seated in the dugout, listening to the trending tracks.
Tamannaah got their energy levels up through her graceful moves. But the Chennai fans, outnumbering Gujarat supporters, had another moment when Rashmika’s “Vanakkam Chennai Super Kings” got louder cheers than “Kem cho Gujarat Titans?”, followed by her dancing to some popular songs, including the chartbuster Naatu Naatu from the movie RRR.
When the performers as well as dignitaries from the BCCI were called upon the stage to conclude the opening ceremony, Dhoni and Pandya arrived on grand chariots.
Despite Pandya being the home captain, the cheers, the crowd, upwards of 1,00,000, erupted in joy with chants of ‘Dhoni, Dhoni, Dhoni’, something which will be heard more during Friday’s match.