Amid the beautiful moments that emerged from Kolkata Knight Riders’ win on Sunday night, the one that perhaps stood out the most was a heart-warming incident of passion that took place off the field. Strange as it may seem, it wasn’t about David Warner’s comeback or Andre Russell bludgeoning gigantic sixes to script a fairytale win.
What stood out instead is a short video put out by KKR on Twitter which showed their owner Shahrukh Khan embracing a wheelchair-bound differently abled man as he, in a moment of emotional abandon, keeps shouting ‘I love you’.
— KolkataKnightRiders (@KKRiders) March 24, 2019
The man in the video is 28-year-old Harshul Goenka, who has been fighting a tireless battle against cerebral palsy and winning hearts off the field. Harshul –- most cricketers lovingly refer to him as the ‘Boss’ — first met Shahrukh back in 2014 and since then, there has not been a single KKR match when the Ballygunje resident has not been in attendance.
Harshul’s love for cricket has won him many friends in recent times, with his passion having touched many hearts. Accompanied by his attendants Santosh Mishra and Sanjay Ram and his mother Rajani Goenka, Harshul has been a constant source of strength and passion for the Kolkata-based IPL franchise.
In fact, as Gautam Gambhir joined the Delhi Daredevils last year, he had a special mention for Harshul, who he said would be among the persons he would miss the most. Sharing a collage of photos featuring special moments that Harshul had spent with KKR players, Gambhir tweeted: “I will miss many parts of @KKRiders may be will get over with time but not the Superfan Harshul ‘Boss’ Goenka. Let’s see if I can convince Boss to convert into being a @DelhiDaredevils fan. While I do that u checkout his collage”.
I will miss many parts of @KKRiders may be will get over with time but not the Superfan Harshul ‘Boss’ Goenka. Let’s see if I can convince Boss to convert into being a @DelhiDaredevils fan. While I do that u checkout his collage ? pic.twitter.com/V2d4HRh0uB
— Gautam Gambhir (@GautamGambhir) February 19, 2018
Harshul’s Twitter timeline features a series of photos in which he is seen posing with famous Indian cricketers, including KKR captain Dinesh Karthik, Indian captain Virat Kohli and former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly.
Back in 2013, just before a KKR versus Mumbai Indians match, Sachin Tendulkar had famously played cricket with Harshul in the lobby of the ITC Sonar hotel in Kolkata. The Master Blaster had handed over his own bat to Harshul, made him grip it and play strokes as the hotel staff bowled at him.
“Sachin is God. Even Google can’t come up with an adjective to describe him. My son adores him and Sachin does everything he can to keep him happy,” his mother had later told DNA. The same report quoted Harshul as saying, “Sachin is the greatest. No one will beat his records. I told him that. He is the best. I have his videos. I will watch those after his retirement.”
Over the years, Harshul, the superfan, has captured a billion hearts with his passion and fortitude. Every IPL brings with it the stories of grit and determination, of boys who play a brilliant innings or pull off an unforgettable catch to announce their arrival on the big stage. But the tournament is all the more special because it throws up these soul-shaking stories of passion which eclipses all mental and physical barriers.