The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Blue-eyed in willow fever

A Marxist minister is “praying” for their success. A magician is trying to cast a spell on their opponents. A crooner is belting out an old hit to inspire them. Even stern-faced bankers are wearing their colour on their sleeves, just like any parar chhele.

Calcutta is dreaming — day and night— and the colour of the dream is definitely blue, the shade you see when you look up at the sky. The city — from the bookish chief minister and the mandarin at Writers’ Buildings to the hawker at Esplanade (who is making a quick buck selling the blue-coloured dream, and T-shirt) — is obsessed with a glittering Cup that resembles a ball, and for which Team India is taking on Australia on Sunday.

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has no qualms admitting it. The captain of the Left Front team spent all Friday trying — unsuccessfully — to get through to the skipper of the Indian team. Finally, an SMS from a Cabinet colleague (Asok Bhattacharya), congratulating Sourav Ganguly on the team’s passage to the title round, went through to Jo’burg.

The response (“Thank you, Sir”) was prompt, and a beaming Bhattacharya announced that Sourav will get civic receptions on his return, even if his team missed the Cup. The government will set up an archive containing the skipper’s cricket gear in north Bengal. “The Indian team has defeated nine others to reach the final,” the minister explained.

Sports minister Subhas Chakraborty is more practical. He has made arrangements to set up giant screens at several clubs in Dum Dum, Barasat, Khardah, Behala, Jadavpur, and Kasba so the members could catch the match live.

The Opposition is not to be Left behind. Trinamul chief Mamata Banerjee has decided to “share the excitement” of the final with her family and party workers at her Kalighat residence, or its adjoining party office.

She feels that Team India — even if it fails to bring the Cup home — has given a “great” account of itself.

‘Didi’ is hoping for the best but one partyman, borough X chairman Aroop Biswas, has gone a step ahead, organising a yajna for the team’s success.

People from other walks of life are also doing their bit for Team India. P.C. Sorcar (Jr) said he had some “Indrajal” up his sleeve to take care of the Aussies if Team India failed. Singer Usha Uthup has conceived a song — the key lines run teri jeet meri jeet, teri har meri har (a la Sholay) — for the Team.

And those from outside, too, are doing their best to feel at home. At the height of Cup fever, this means supporting India. Mungo Fraser and Russel Tavcor, both from England, say their team is India, which is not surprising, given their rivalry with the Aussies over the Ashes.

But there are some not happy with the way things have sounded. West Bengal Pollution Control Board officers know they are up against it — ever since Team India thrashed Pakistan — though raids have yielded a cache of crackers and one FIR (at Kalyani).

Officers say they are hoping the arrests “will follow” but, for once, seem swamped by the spectre of the opposition they may have to face if Team India gets its hands on the Cup.

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