The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dona grounded but fans fly high

George W. Bush is playing spoilsport in ways even he couldn’t have anticipated. Dona and Sana Ganguly may sound unlikely victims of the war, but caught in a security snarl, the skipper’s wife and year-old daughter won’t be able to cheer Sourav on in person, as planned.

Both were to join Sourav in Johannesburg by a chartered flight on Saturday, which has been cancelled for security reasons. “We were planning to go anyway, but it would have been too long a journey with the baby,” said Dona on Friday evening.

Some south Calcutta fans had a simple solution to world peace that would have solved Sourav’s family’s troubles, too: “Mr Bush. Stop war, follow cricket”.

Nothing can put a damper on cricket-crazed Calcutta.

Safe in the knowledge that the cause is just and the sailing smooth, Calcutta is decking up like a girl on a first date. Flags fly high, giant Cups fill narrow lanes. Thirty bamboo-and-foil models have been dispatched to Sourav’s para alone from just one roadside workshop in Rambagan.

If Maharaj is lord and master (at least till Sunday), he’s had to share his throne with divinity. In the bylanes of Kumartuli, a fibreglass Sourav is being worshipped, alongside Gopal. But as the hero holds aloft a shiny trophy, thick gold chain dangling above baby-blue collar, there is another man who is God, worshipped as Gopal, wielding an MRF bat against the Kenyan attack.

“It’s not as if we prefer Sachin. He is the opener and is gol-gaal, like Gopal should be,” explains a member of Swadhin Sangha, behind the Holi puja on the eve of the semi-final.

Monti Pal is a loyalist. He has spent Rs 23,000 on the fibreglass murti to prove the man from Behala is the man he backs.

Bhowanipore’s lanes reveal the same conflict. “Bharater gourab, amader Sourav” is what kids from the Sports’ Lovers Association proclaim during a rally. But the traffic-stoppers’ headgear belies their words. Almost all sported Sachin sweatbands.

But don’t dare ask the what-if-India-doesn’t-win question. After nearly lynching unbelievers, the eight-to-18 year-olds shout: “Don’t say that! We have already won the Cup!”

Maybe they have information we don’t. But what is the difference, really'

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