The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dona to Ash, cricket rules the day

Calcutta, March 1: 9.42 pm, Park Street. Two teenagers on a two-wheeler. Suddenly, the boy at the wheel lets the handlebars go and spreads his arms as if to fly. The one riding pillion stands up — Sholay style — and lets the Tricolour he is holding fly into the Saturday night, with a scream: “Chaaaaaampion….”

As if on Cup cue, Calcutta’s party street comes alive. Rahul Dravid has just pulled Waqar Younis to the SuperSport Park fence, India has won the match that matters, and it’s time to celebrate. Car horns blare loud and clear, crackers go off like crazy, boys break out into victory laps, flags fluttering high, shouting “India zindabad, Pakistan murdabad, Desh ka hero kaisa ho, Sachin Tendulkar jaisa ho…”

Twenty minutes of till-then-deserted-now-fast-filling-up city streets away, the Ganguly household on Biren Roy Road was the scene of a merry mashaal march. Even as the victorious skipper ran out into the Centurion green, and the party began in his para, at home, wife Dona was busy answering congratulatory calls, while 15-month-old daughter Sana was “running around”, as she had been for the entire Indian innings.

“I am very happy… What else can I feel after this match'” said Dona, minutes after the win. Having sat through “most of the crunch match”, she said she was expecting Sourav’s call “later in the night”. Sana, who was “napping at half-time”, woke up to the sounds of Sachin’s strokeplay and the shouts of joy filling the home of Indian cricket’s first family.

“Four! No, six, six, six!” was what Dona was screaming, when The Telegraph first contacted her at the start of the Indian reply. The cause of the cacophony was Tendulkar’s six over point off Shoaib Akhtar. “I can tell you how I feel after the match…. But please don’t call if the result is bad,” she had said then. Four hours later, Dona was “delighted”.

Great expectation was the theme of the cricketing dream on Saturday. From politicians to film stars, corporate hotshots to top cops, the city slipped into a holiday mode with a mission — Mission Pakistan. A day after the Union budget, Writers’ Buildings wore a deserted look except for the finance department, where Asim Dasgupta was busy drawing up the state budget, due on March 5.

Jyoti Basu spent the day at son Chandan’s house to catch the match. Mamata Banerjee, too, had her sights set on India.

On a different pitch, too, cricket was king. The start of the third and final schedule of Rituparno Ghosh’s Chokher Bali was pushed back by a day on request from leading lady Aishwarya Rai. Ash pushed the ‘please let us watch the India-Pakistan match’ petition from cast and crew that prompted the filmmaker to set cameras rolling from Sunday, not Saturday. “How could I deny them the chance to watch such a big match'” smiled Ghosh.

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