The VIVO Indian Premier League is as much a celebration of the Gentlemen’s Game as it is an exhibition of the finest cricketers from around the world. Passions run high when rivalries emerge, fans set the stand ablaze with their enthusiasm and fortunes turn in the matter of a few balls. 

Through all this, there are those who are entrusted with the responsibility of keeping the spirits of the fans high no matter what the situation: the cheerleaders. caught up with Zara Milner, who keeps the Kings’ Army screaming and cheering, in an exclusive interview to find out what goes on behind the scenes in the life of a cheerleader. 

From Down Under to Kings of the North 

Coming all the way from Melbourne, Australia, Zara is a professional dancer with a decade’s experience in the field, including in the Big Bash League. 

“I’ve worked for 3 different dance companies in Australia,” she says. “I have done this for more than 10 years back home but this is my first time in India. 

“In the six months that I’m here I will be touring, doing TV commercials, promotional videos and a lot of other things so it’s going to be crazy. After this I’ll take break and spend the off-season at home.” 

She landed up with a role in the IPL through serendipity, her germane background perhaps playing a part. 

“My agent actually found this advertisement for dancers in India and she asked me if I would like to do it. At a whim I just agreed and fortunately I got shortlisted. I just sent my pictures and video after that, but I still wasn’t sure I would make it. But the process was really fast and within a couple of weeks I had moved to India,” said Zara, still unable to believe her fortune. 

The Premier Indian Experience 

Having been in India for some time now, Zara is extremely happy with the decision she took to travel here and being with a team like KXIP is the icing on the cake. 

“It has been a fantastic experience,” she exclaims. “I’ve really enjoyed travelling to all the different places. Kings XI Punjab is a really good team as well so it’s nice.” 

But it hasn’t been all song and dance. The sapping heat and overwhelming crowds are enough to rattle any professional and Zara is no different. 

“It’s very hot here, especially during the 4 pm games and we have to be in the sun all the time. So yeah, it gets tough. Even the crowd is much larger than in other places. There are a lot more people, more flags and drums as compared to Australia.”

Even among all the craziness, though, there are those moments that make it all worthwhile. Like the time she got to lead the cheer team onto the field in her first ever game at Mohali. 

“It was our home and I was leading all the girls onto the ground with our flags and the fans behind us. I’ll always remember that moment,” she reflected. 

Having interacted with the cricketers from KXIP a bit now, she says Mohit Sharma is the most fun and easy to talk to among the lot and says everyone around her has helped her pick up some basic Hindi for everyday use as well. 

“I know words like Shukriya, Seedhe and some directions, basically to find my way around any new place,” she said. 

As the Kings now prepare for their second home venue of Indore, the stage is set for some rollicking encounters and you can be sure that these cheerleaders will be right up there among all the action.