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There’s always a next time

Mumbai, March 23: Things were already bad when the World Cup began a month ago. Today, the day of the finals, they went out of hand.

Home to Indian cricket’s reigning deity, business in Mumbai, the country’s financial capital, just did not take off.

“There was only a couple who booked tickets for The Replicant (a Jean Claude Van Damme action thriller),” said the manager of Gem theatre in Bandra. “We had to cancel the show.”

So what if the feverishly anticipated Brett Lee-Sachin Tendulkar contest was a non-starter' As Navjot Singh Sidhu would have said, business was as dead as a dodo.

Theatres here do rocking business on Sundays. Since the Word Cup started, they have been doing mere 45-50 per cent business. Today, it bungee-jumped to 5 per cent.

Most, like Gem, thought it made better sense to cancel the shows and go home and watch cricket instead. “We have no choice,” said an employee at Andheri’s Cine Magic. “Who will see Maid in Manhattan when they can watch Tendulkar, Mohammed Kaif, Yuvraj Singh and Ashish Nehra'”

Restaurants, too, have been hit. Except the A-list ones like Olive, Jazz By The Bay, Indigo or Tendulkar’s, the smaller ones reported few or no customers.

Ratan of the popular Chinese restaurant Picasso had arranged for a big screen. The plan misfired. “Of course, a lot of people came to watch the match,” he said. “But all those who came never left their tables till the match got over.”

A restaurant promised each table a tray of tomatoes — to be hurled at Lee or McGrath or whoever when they took a wicket or sledged — free of cost.

At Picasso, the crowd suddenly lapsed into a deathly silence. Kaif had got out on zero to a McGrath stunner. “All my prayers have gone waste,” said Rajeev Bhojwani, a college student.

Bhojwani had egged on Team India even when Tendulkar fell. But when Sourav Ganguly got out and Kaif followed his captain, it was too much for even the die-hard fan. As he shuffled towards the door, he looked at the screen one last time. The Australians were still celebrating. His pride was hurt but all was not lost. “Theek hai, is baar yeh Cup tum le lo,” he said. “But next time, the Cup will be ours.”

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