Saravanan Hari says he just can’t wait to put on his body paint and cheer for his favourite side in their Den when the Chennai Super Kings return to competition in the Indian Premier League next season.
The 31-year-old was a permanent fixture at the MA Chidambaram Stadium during the Lions’ home games, painted in Yellow and with ‘CSK’ and ‘Dhoni’ inscribed in black all over his body.
“Like every other CSK fan, I have been waiting for this moment and I’m certain we’ll return with a bang,” says Saravanan, who is employed in the private sector in Chennai.
CSK’s two-year absence created a void in his life and he, like the team’s multi-million fan base, drew comfort by following “their players” (especially Mahendra Singh Dhoni) who turned out for either RPS or Gujarat Lions.
“CSK is not just a team to us, it is family,” he says in Tamil. “It’s difficult without the family around. If you’ve lived away from your family, you’d understand how difficult it can be emotionally,” he explains.
Saravanan recollects his first attempt at body paint. “It was 2013. A friend and I were riding to Chepauk when I felt like doing something different as a fan for my favourite team. Looking back, I must say this (body paint) has given me identity as a ‘Super Fan’.”
Saravanan, who has organised blood donation camps on Dhoni’s birthday along with other members of Chennai Super Kings Fan Club, has been following CSK closely since the inaugural season and says it was the side’s ability to win close games that got him hooked on to the team.
“CSK’s growing fan base is owing to their exceptional play and a lot of that has got to do with MS Dhoni. To me 2011 was a defining year as a Dhoni fan for he won India the 50-over World Cup and followed it up by leading CSK to their second straight IPL crown,” he concludes.