On October 15th, two of India’s biggest religions – cricket and Bollywood – will descend upon the Andheri Sports Complex hand-in-hand to compete in the third edition of the country’s biggest annual charity football match. The Virat Kohli Foundation will collaborate with Abhishek Bachchan’s Playing for Humanity once again to give us an evening full of the “best of both worlds”.
Virat Kohli Foundation's All Heart Football Club will feature professional cricketers and other athletes, while Playing for Humanity's All Star Football Club will feature actors, filmmakers and other craftsmen from within the industry. Last year, they raised funds for those affected by the Maharashtra drought.
To know what to expect, here’s a flashback to the 2016 edition of the Celebrity Clasico:
The match ended 2-2, with the All Heart cricketers mounting a splendid comeback after being 2-0 down early on – through the likes of KL Rahul, Yuvraj Singh, Shikhar Dhawan and captain Kohli himself. KL Rahul and Yuvraj Singh scored for the cricketers. MS Dhoni again showed his glovework on the field as a part-time goalkeeper – incidentally, he started as a football goalie when his school coach instinctively chose him to play as a wicketkeeper for cricket. Others in the All Heart FC team were Manoj Tiwary, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, R Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, (goalie) Mayank Dagar and Ashok Dinda.
The All Stars played in blue jerseys, while the All Heart were red.
Abhishek Bachchan, original captain of his team, sat out due to an injury. He took over managerial duties from the sidelines.
Ranbir Kapoor, the captain of the All Stars XI, put in a lion-hearted performance. The FC Barcelona fan ran himself ragged while trying to keep his team in the game against a bunch of professional athletes who use football to warm up quite often in their cricketing practice sessions. The other star performers were director Shoojit Sircar (his Bong-football genes ensured a first goal – an elegant header), Dino Morea (who provided the cross), and Ranbir’s trainer Antonio Pecora (who scored the second goal for his team).
The super-fit Pecora, in fact, kept the Stars in the game for the last 10 minutes, dropping back in defense to support his tired troops, thwarting multiple attacks by Kohli and his men, and bringing down Kohli on the edge of the box once to almost hand over the Heart XI a penalty. Others in the Stars team were Arjun Kapoor, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Kartik Aaryan, Raj Kundra, Karan Wahi, Armaan Jain and Sachiin Joshi.
Virat Kohli pulled off another chase – but ended, fairly, at 2-2 in front of a capacity crowd of 10,000 fans. Man of the Match? Not surprisingly, it was Kohli – who has won plenty of cricketing Man of the Match awards too.
Will it be another no-holds-barred Kohli v/s Bachchan high-scoring draw this year? Or will someone be winning boasting rights for the next one year?