The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Round tables, star pavilions

The guest list: CMs, old and new, big biz men, social butterflies, a handful of cricketing greats and two dozen on-field adversaries. On sale: A few round tables, run-ravaged bats, scruffy cricket balls, sweaty T-shirts…

It’s a friendly fund-raiser for the kids and the cricketers. After two long days at the Eden Gardens, the Indian and West Indian teams will spend a couple of hours being wined and dined in style at the Hyatt Regency on Thursday night. The cause: Child Relief and You (CRY is patronised by skipper Sourav’s wife, Dona Ganguly) and The Telegraph Education Foundation. And last, but surely not the least, the new-born Indian Cricket Players’ Association (ICPA).

The round tables, for what is billed to be the biggest bash of the Calcutta calendar, are being sold at unconfirmed rates (Rs 1 lakh per table, goes the bazaar buzz). The 11 corporate players in the frontline include Hero Honda, TVS, Ambuja Cements, S. Goenka (not the RPG group), Samsung… Each will have an Indian cricketer posted at the table through the dinner. Nawab Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, president, ICPA, has booked his own table for 10.

And guess who else could be coming for dinner at the Hyatt — Jyoti Basu and son Chandan, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, mayor Subrata Mukherjee and consular diplomats from the political arena; ITC chief Y.C. Deveshwar and S.B. Ganguly of Exide from the world of commerce; Moon Moon Sen and Shamlu Dudeja from the small city circuit.

With Viv Richards leading the cricketing legends, it’s not surprising that fans are also clawing for their share of the fun. Wednesday night saw frantic last-minute calls. “I don’t mind paying even Rs 1.5 lakh for a table… My kids really want to go,” pleaded one.

But sorry, no kids allowed. It’s an adults-only evening, starting with cocktails on the lawn at 7.15 pm. “That is when everyone will really get to mingle with the cricketers,” explains Praveen Chawla, general manager, Hyatt.

Then it’s back into the ballroom, where 36 tables will be set up with starters waiting for the guests. The 400-odd guests will have a run of the buffet for the main course (see box). But the buffet spread will not distract from the business at hand. With masters of ceremonies Michael Holding, Ravi Shastri and Barry O’Brien getting things going, a few speeches are on the schedule before the fun starts for the fans.

Cricket memorabilia — topped by Sachin’s bat — will be offered on auction. “There have been two big cricket auctions for a cause held in Calcutta over the past couple of years. Sir Donald Bradman’s bat and Shane Warne’s boots fetched a total of Rs 31 lakh,” says O’Brien.

This is not to be a one-off event, either. “We are planning on taking this to other cities,” explains Arun Lal, secretary, ICPA. “So, at a Mumbai dinner, we would give the proceeds to a charity that Sachin is involved with, as well as a children’s cause,” he adds.

That’s later. For now, it’s just the Hyatt dinner on Halloween night that counts.

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