At The Hindu: Anything but dull…..

CHENNAI: Thirty-six small pairs of eyes stared in awe as bowler Sudeep Tyagi bobbed his head and shook his hips to the music, surrounded by cheerleaders turning somersaults. The young fans of the junior team are used to not blinking when watching the Kings on the field, but watching their Tyagi break it down only a few feet away from them was an equally hard trance to snap out of.

“We’re really happy and excited!” they chimed, unable to sit still in their seats.

Almost as lively as the field action itself, the Chennai Super Kings meeting with the three Vijay TV Chennai Super Kings junior finalist teams on Monday evening was anything but dull.

“This is the first time I’ve ever seen anything like this in my life,” said batsman S. Anirudha, in response to the children’s buzzing and his team-mate’s dancing.

However, the children’s smiles fell at the mention of the IPL’s move to South Africa. “We’re very sad. If it were here at least we could have gone.”

Vijay TV General Manager K. Sriram said the channel has offered to pay for the airfare to South Africa and entry fee for the finalists who would have originally been offered these perks if the IPL had remained in India. But now, due to logistical reasons, the children will have to cheer on their team miles away from the action.

“Our favorites are Dhoni and Raina,” they said, “we will definitely be watching them on T.V.”

The Chennai Super Kings Junior Team reality show was set up by Vijay TV to encourage children who want to become professional cricketers one day. The children, aged 7 to 12, have enjoyed every moment, according to Mr. Sriram, although the elimination rounds can be tough.

Only two more episodes remain to select the champion junior team, but regardless of which junior team wins the title, the CSK team can rest assured they’ve got the unconditional support from all of their younger fans.

This article appeared in The Hindu on April 7, 2009.

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