When KXIP star KL Rahul hit the winning runs at the home ground on April 8, he had a big smile on his face. Another person by the same name, a die-hard fan of the team, could not help but have the same big smile.

Rahul Malhotra’s moments were special as he watched his favourite team trounce their Bangalore rivals on their home ground. He had earned access to the prestigious box seat at the ground after he took part in an online contest by Coca-Cola and was selected as one of the winners, and had the experience of a lifetime.

“I really enjoyed the match, especially because I saw my favourite team win. The hospitality was very good as well,” Rahul recalls the special moments.

Rahul Malhotra

As part of the contest, Coca-Cola gave some fans an opportunity to watch matches live at different locations- a perfect way to celebrate fans’ passion for their favourite game.

Rahul with a friend

For Rahul, who was a fast bowler during his school days, it was a moment to cherish. One of his favourite players, Mohammed Shami, has been on fire this season and loved every moment of his bowling.  

“I try not to miss any cricket action and am looking forward to the ICC World Cup in England,” Rahul said, excited about the six weeks of amazing cricketing ahead.

Patiala-based Gurinder Bassi had never seen a cricket match in a stadium in his life. So, when he sensed that he could take part in a contest to win tickets to matches, he jumped at the opportunity.

As a postgraduate student, he tries to take out time from studies to follow the matches of his favourite teams. This one was going to be special.

Soon, he was headed for the stadium on April 13, as a guest of Coca-Cola to enjoy the match in comfort and style that only few get to enjoy. The match between KXIP and Royal Challengers Bangalore was a fantastic contest for him as Chris Gayle blasted the bowlers all over the stadium but missed his century by one run. KXIP lost the close match but the entertainment was worth his while.

The brightly lit playing area, the cheering of the KXIP fans, the hospitality of Coca-Cola, and the happiness of being part of the action made his day.

“It was a first for me – watching a match in the stadium. Coca-Cola helped me realise this dream,” Gurinder says with a smile.

Babit Kumar’s dream as a school kid was to be a fast bowler. He was also a hard-hitting batsman, “a bit like Dhoni” when he played for his school. He could not pursue his dream of turning his passion into his profession. But the fire of following cricket, especially India’s matches around the world, was always burning.

Babit Kumar

He too took part in the contest and soon got a call that he had been chosen to watch the match on April 16, which pitted hosts KXIP against Rajasthan Royals. KXIP batted first, with KL Rahul and Chris Gayle firing on all cylinders. The crowd got their money’s worth as KXIP choked the opposition when they chased and won the match with a comfortable margin.

“Sitting in the VIP lounge and watching the match, as a guest of Coca-Cola was special for me. I had never imagined that I could watch it with such fun and enjoyment,” Babit recalls the day.

KXIP has been doing well during the current season. Babit, Gurinder and Rahul name Chris Gayle as their hero and he has been going great guns. The team may have slipped a few notches during the last couple of weeks, it still has a chance to make it for the knockout stage of the tournament. That will give them a chance to lift the trophy for the first time ever.

If these, and many other fans have their way, Chris Gayle will have a big role to play in that.