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Memories of playing at the Holy Grail of Indian cricket flooded the Knights’ minds as they returned to the Eden Gardens to train in full swing for the sixteenth edition of the TATA Indian Premier League (IPL).

Having trained at Eden’s indoor facility on two consecutive days (March 20 and 21), the Purple & Gold brigade had their first open session at Eden on March 22, Wednesday. The players naturally felt emotional as they returned to their home turf after a three-year COVID-enforced hiatus.

Scores of fans greeted the Knights with “Ami KKR chants” as the team bus made its way to the hallowed stadium. “I am coming back to Eden as a Knight after three years, especially for a night practice session. All the memories from the first two years (2018 and 2019) are coming back to me now. This was our home turf, this was everything to us. I can recall each innings of mine here. Each and every match we played and won here…All the memories are coming back,” a nostalgic NitishRana told before hitting the nets on Wednesday.

The swashbuckling southpaw, who has amassed 1,774 runs from 74 innings at an average of 29.48 and a strike-rate of 136.36 during his KKR stint so far, added, “There’s no greater feeling than playing at Eden Gardens for KKR. Witnessing and feeling the crowd while being in the middle…Whoever has seen that crowd can only explain the value of it. We got a glimpse of it today as they had been waiting for three years.”

Andre Russell, the cynosure of the KKR fans, has said multiple times that he is indebted to the Eden crowd for his KKR success. The Jamaican all-rounder reiterated the same, saying, “First day back home, practicing at this beautiful stadium after three years…I am just soaking it in at the moment. After I was done batting in the nets, I was lying down on the grass. Hopefully, we can get the ball rolling and start off with a cracker.”

The fans present at the stadium to witness the Knights’ training went berserk as soon as their beloved Dre-Russ entered the ground. Overwhelmed with the reception, an elated Russell told, “The fans put a smile on my face. It makes me want to perform and makes me want to give the fans what they have been getting for the past few years here. I’ll definitely make sure that I put my best foot forward and hopefully we can have a better season.”

Unlike Rana and Russell, who’ve donned the Purple & Gold hues at Eden before, VenkateshIyer will be playing his first IPL season at the iconic ground. The pace-bowling all-rounder, who was retained by KKR after his breakthrough season in 2020, said, The Eden crowd will be getting their much deserved live action. It feels heartwarming. As a youngster, you dream of moments like this. The crowd wants to see you in action. The crowd wants to cheer for you. Trust me, there’s no feeling more satisfactory than this. That’s the beauty of the game!”

The two-time TATA IPL champions will begin the quest for their third title with an away encounter against Punjab Kings in Mohali on April 1.