All keyed up for Mohali showdown (Roundup)March 29th, 2011 - 8:05 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, March 29 (IANS) What are you doing after 2.30 p.m. tomorrow? Difficult to answer any other day but the definitive question on Tuesday as executives, factory workers, students and every other segment of society plotted and planned to watch the India-Pakistan World Cup semifinal amid the anticipation and anxiety that precedes any big-ticket event.
From the taxi driver in Mumbai and the shopkeeper in Bihar’s Aurangabad district to the tense police official in Kashmir and the stressed student in Uttar Pradesh’s Sant Kabir Nagar, the nation’s attention had all but swivelled to the grassy oval at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium in Mohali.
It was as if all roads led to the suburban town in the Indian Punjab, barely 300 km from Pakistan’s Lahore city, ahead of Wednesday’s semifinal that would also be watched by India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani.
According to a survey by industry lobby Assocham, 60 percent of office-goers will miss work on Wednesday.
In power-starved Bihar, thousands of cricket fans took not chance and turned to their rusty transistors just in case electricity outages make their TV sets useless when it most matters.
Mukesh Kumar Singh, a businessman in Gaya district, said a power failure could rob him of a chance to watch the matches live, so he had settled for the old, trusted radio.
“People are buying radios and batteries and some people are getting their old radios repaired,” said Santosh Mahto, who owns a small electronic shop in Vaishali district.
Not far away, in eastern Uttar Pradesh’s Sant Kabir Nagar, students were turning up for extra classes - to seek divine intervention for the victory of India in the World Cup!
“We have been doing it ever since the World Cup 2011 started,” principal Ram Dayal of the Khaleelabad Primary School told reporters Tuesday.
But on Tuesday, a day before the match, there was also concern that all goes well.
In the volatile Kashmir Valley, where an India-Pakistan sports clash traditionally evokes strong reactions, officials were taking no chances.
The state government was keeping an eye on the old city areas here which have been the hotbed of separatist sentiment in Kashmir. Authorities say they would be strictly implementing the orders banning the assembly of five or more people.
“Times have definitely changed and we are expecting everybody to behave in a sportsmanly manner,” a police officer told IANS.
“Unfortunately, the game has been converted into a war and nobody can deny the fact that the media in both India and Pakistan have added fuel to fire,” former Ranji player and selector Muhammad Ashraf said.
Many office goers, school students and businessmen had decided to take the day off.
“My family has decided to remain indoors tomorrow and watch the game at home,” said Imtiyaz Ahmad Wani, a college teacher.
It was the time to party hard for those who could afford to - and even those who couldn’t.
At the Second Sin eatery at the MGF Metropolitan Mall in Saket in the national capital, cricket enthusiasts were being wooed with “big screen telecast of the match, endless round of drinks and an array of vegetarian and non-vegetarian snacks”.
Other pubs, nightclubs and restaurants in the country did the same as did many offices to keep their employees amused and occupied.
The not-so-privileged were not immune to the excitement either.
“I am sure India will win. It has won several of the matches,” Shiv Chowdhury, a domestic help in an upscale Delhi neighbourhood, told IANS.
He was echoed by at least a dozen of fellow migrant domestic helps and cooks who planned to watch the matches at a shack after work.
The tele-viewing sessions would be followed by a feast of rice, dal, curried vegetables and spicy mutton — but only when India wins!
In Chandigarh, of course, the centre of all action as the big town nearest to Mohali, residents said never had something as big happened earlier. The airport prepared to receive 50 chartered and private flights and thousands of visitors. Not a hotel room or even a bed was to be found as the frenzy mounted.
Residents were told to avoid roads for two days as prime ministers, corporate honchos, middle class businessmen, everybody was going to, or at least wanted to, watch the ‘mother of all clashes’.
With Rs.15,000 tickets of the prized terrace pavilion going for over Rs.200,000 apiece in illegal auctions, black-markeeters had a field day.
And if you were not interested in the action on the field, you certainly had an academic interest — if not in the game itself, then in the ramifications of the victory or defeat. And on the implications for India-Pakistan relations, whether the better optics would lead to better ties.
It was not war, but it was close.
- Cuppa of cheer: Delhi warms up to World Cup fever - Mar 29, 2011
- An 'extra class' to pray for India's victory - Mar 29, 2011
- Frenzy grips Chandigarh ahead of India-Pakistan match - Mar 29, 2011
- Previous India-Pakistan encounters in cricket-diplomacy - Mar 26, 2011
- Kashmir cautious ahead of India-Pakistan match - Mar 29, 2011
- Bihar cricket fans tune in to rusty radios - Mar 29, 2011
- Pakistani missing after Mohali match? Police don't think so - Apr 13, 2011
- Harbhajan visits home before Indo- Pak World Cup semi final - Mar 27, 2011
- No power cuts in Madhya Pradesh during India-Pakistan match - Mar 30, 2011
- Manmohan, Gilani meet over dinner - Mar 30, 2011
- Cricket fans wander in Mohali sans tickets - Mar 28, 2011
- Pak team practices ahead of highly anticipated World Cup semi final against India - Mar 27, 2011
- India Inc. bowled over by Mohali match - Mar 29, 2011
- Passions rise in Kashmir ahead of Mohali clash - Mar 27, 2011
- Agnivesh raps Manmohan Singh for inviting Pak PM to watch WC semi final - Mar 30, 2011
Tags: aurangabad district, cricket fans, dayal, electricity outages, electronic shop, gilani, india pakistan, indian punjab, lahore city, manmohan singh, old radios, power failure, prime minister manmohan, prime minister manmohan singh, punjab cricket association, sant kabir, stressed student, suburban town, taxi driver, world cup semifinal