| Team India ex-captain Rahul Dravid interacts with budding cricketers during nets at Devang Gandhi’s Ultra Plus Steel Balak Sangha School of Cricket, at Northern Park, on Tuesday evening. The Wall later fielded questions from the youngsters and obliged autograph-hunters. Dravid was all praise for the floodlit cricket facility, as it “allows students to play the sport without coming in the way of school timings”. Picture by Anindya Shankar Ray
Every move you make/ Every step you take/ We’ll be watching you.
The men in uniform shadowing the Sachin Tendulkars and Shoaib Akhtars will be singing this tune for the next nine days as India and Pakistan battle it out at Eden Gardens under a heavy security blanket.
All “scheduled movements” of every player from either team will be monitored by dedicated officers. For any unscheduled movement (read, big boys play at night) a player must give police prior information and obtain a security clearance. No one will be allowed to step out of the team hotel without “proper notice”.
Close to 5,000 policemen will be pressed into action for the Test, starting on Friday. “Never has such a huge force been deployed for a cricket match in Calcutta. The move follows the email threat of a terror attack,” said an officer.
Home secretary Prasad Ranjan Roy said on Tuesday that there could be a West Asia link to the mail sent from New Delhi and so, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau (SIB) had been called in.
“There will be a security cover at the players’ place of stay, and during the journey from the hotel to the stadium and practice sessions. The security concerns of every player have been taken into consideration and arrangements have been made accordingly,” said Vineet Goyel, the deputy commissioner of police (headquarters).
Police commissioner Gautam Mohan Chakrabarti met chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and home secretary Ray on Tuesday to brief them about the bandobast. He told them how a special team of officers was protecting the pitch, how members from the Special Action Force and the Rapid Action Force have specific tasks of security coverage, what special steps are being taken for Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly under Z-category cover, and how the security drill followed for the chief minister is being replicated for Team Pakistan.
Security at Eden Gardens includes multiple check points for visitors. Besides banning foodstuff, water bottles and other items that can be hurled, cops have banned cameras inside the stadium.
Police commissioner Chakrabarti said: “I appeal to everyone to go to Eden Gardens and watch the match without any fear. Tight security will be in place.”
Chicken & biryani
Behind the closed doors of Taj Bengal, the two teams settled in on Tuesday. The players (minus Sachin and some others) arrived around 1.30pm and headed straight for their rooms.
While most of the Pakistani cricketers stepped into Sonargaon for lunch, the Indians opted for room service. Butter Naan, Dhania Murg Chicken and biryani figured high on the list of favourites for Shoaib Malik’s men.
“The Indian and Pakistani tastebuds are similar, though North-West Frontier cuisine is more popular among Team Pakistan. During the Test, however, they all follow a very strict diet,” said Sujan Mukherjee, the executive chef of the Alipore hotel.