Paying tribute to cricket's 4 most lovable super-fans

Ashwin Srinivasa

Even though the battle on the cricket field is fierce, the passion and joy among the fans remains intact

Cricket has always been a sport that is played with fervor and competitiveness. The contest between bat and ball is a sight to behold, and when two players engage in a duel, it makes the viewing even more dramatic.

The broadcasters utilize the past history between two players or two sides and build up a rivalry. Even before a ball is bowled, the intensity is palpable; this urges the fans to support their favorite sides with an element of patriotism.

They dress up like their cricketing heroes, they shower praise by making flyers, posters and placards etc, and they also show their emotions during milestones, victories and defeats. Sachin Tendulkar's 200th Test match was a great example of this; his farewell became a huge topic of discussion even before the Test series had started, with fans and experts giving their glowing tributes.

People never wanted the great man to go, and were left teary-eyed when Tendulkar gave his emotional farewell speech.

Cricketers have also acknowledged the fans' love and support by giving away their jerseys and other cricket-related memorabilia. Virat Kohli once made a personalized video for Aleem Dar's son and also promised to send him an autographed bat from his personal collection.

MS Dhoni helped a Pakistani fan by the name Basheer Khan (in the center of the picture above) by giving him match tickets to the India versus Pakistan semifinal in 2011. Basheer returned the favor by supporting Dhoni during the 2015 World Cup.

Rohit Sharma once helped a Sri Lankan fan by arranging his air tickets to go and attend to his ailing father.

In all walks of life, appreciation and criticism are two sides of the coin that keep a person going. Cricket is no different, and there are some devotees who have taken their hero worship altogether to a different level.

Here's a look at four 'super-fans' who have enthralled the world with their passion:

#1 Sudhir Kumar Chaudhary - India

Sudhir Kumar Chaudhary: Sachin Tendulkar's biggest fan

Sudhir Kumar Chaudhary, also known as Sudhir Gautam, needs no introduction in Indian cricket circles. He's possibly the biggest fan of Sachin Tendulkar and Indian cricket.

Sudhir has done some remarkable things in the past, which even convinced Tendulkar to make a lifetime promise to sponsor his match tickets for every game that India plays. Sudhir returns the favor by giving 1,000 litchis every year to the Indian batting legend.

Sudhir hails from a modest family in Muzzafarpur, Bihar, and had trained to become a teacher before working in a milk company. His craze for Tendulkar was so enormous that he once cycled 1,700 kilometers in 21 days to meet his idol in Mumbai.

Sudhir has gone to the extent of doing ticket-less travel on trains and sleeping on the streets to watch India play. However, he now has public support wherever he goes, and in some marquee events he's been supported by the players themselves.

Sudhir's biggest moment came when Tendulkar called him to celebrate the 2011 World Cup victory in the dressing room. There are numerous photographs of Sudhir and Tendulkar posing with the 2011 World Cup trophy.

Sudhir has become a celebrity of sorts after appearing as one of the three main protagonists in "Beyond the Boundaries". He even played a cameo in "Sachin: A billion dreams".

He usually paints his body with the Indian tricolor and and chants "India...India" during every match. He also blows a conch at the arrival of the Indian cricket team along with waving a huge tri-color flag.

#2 Chacha Cricket - Pakistan

Chacha Cricket: Pakistan's biggest cricket fan

Abdul Jalil Chaudhry, popularly known as Chahca Cricket, is Pakistan's biggest cricket fan. He is 69 years old and he has been supporting Pakistan since the 80s.

Every cricket fan would remember him wearing his green salwar-kurta and a white cap decorated with a star and crescent moon, waving the Pakistani national flag.

Chacha used to work in Abu Dhabi, and would regularly feature in all the matches that Pakistan played in Sharjah. He later decided to resign from his job and support the Pakistani team full-time.

As he was already quite popular with the fans, the Pakistan Cricket Board chose him as their mascot and started to sponsor his tickets and stay arrangements.

Chacha is a huge fan favorite in the stadium and people love to click photographs with him. He is known for his bonding with his rival superfans too; in fact, he helped Sudhir Gautam by sponsoring his accommodation in Lahore during India's tour of Pakistan in 2006.

He regularly travels with the Pakistani team and is famous with the opposition players as well.

#3 Percy Abeysekera - Sri Lanka

Percy Abeysekara: Sri Lanka's longtime cricket fan

Sri Lankan cricket has had its fair share of highs and lows, but the one constant in this journey has been the presence of Percy Abeysekara. Percy has been Sri Lanka's supporter since the last 60 years and has seen their evolution from a struggling Island nation to a major contributor in world cricket.

Percy was working for ACL Cables from 1962 to 1982 after which he took up the job of a PR consultant. He started cheer-leading for Sri Lanka from the year 1979.

Percy had traveled to England to attend the 1983 World Cup and also had the opportunity to dance with the great Sir Garry Sobers, the then Sri Lankan coach. Percy also cheered for Sri Lanka in the 1982 Madras Test, in spite of threats from the Tamil Tigers. He also traveled with the Sri Lankan team during the 1996 World Cup and witnessed the riot-stricken semi-final as well as the final.

Percy shares a special bond with many international stars. Martin Crowe gave him a couple of his Man of the Match trophies for his dedication towards cricket and patriotism for Sri Lanka. Percy also shares a strong friendship with former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin and the current skipper Virat Kohli.

Such has been his unprecedented love for cricket that he named his grandchildren Avinka Garfield and Sachinka, to showcase the respect he has for Sir Gary Sobers and Sachin Tendulkar.

Virat Kohli dancing with Percy in P Sara Oval

#4 Barmy Army - England

The Barmy Army travel to support England wherever they play

Unlike the previous examples, "Barmy" which is slang for "mad" in English is not a single person, but a touring party which travels with the England team and is quite popular for its jibes at the Australian players.

The group got their name from the Australian media during the 1994 Ashes due to their audacity in supporting England, despite knowing fully well that England would lose. The group were founded by Paul Burnham and are now a limited company based out of Middlesex.

The Barmy Army's main objective is to make cricket viewing more entertaining and popular by using specific banners, chants and songs to cheer the English team. The group engage in charity work with the money they collect from donations, but they have also been involved in some incidents of hooliganism which have been condemned by experts.

They usually reserve a particular stand and can create quite a din for the opposing teams with their chants. This is welcomed by some cricket administrators but has also been subjected to criticism by many.

The Barmy Army have been very appreciative of certain players such as Sachin Tendulkar, Brain Lara and Jacques Kallis; they always gave these legends a standing ovation whenever they arrived to bat.

They also have a Twitter handle through which the group regularly give updates. Many also call the Barmy Army England's 12th man.