| Cricket for peace was the message that toddlers from Playgroup Montessori brought to Dona Ganguly on Tuesday, the eve of the showdown at Lahore. Picture by Aranya Sen
Amidst conspiracy theories at coffee shops and goodwill gossip among grey-suit groups, Calcutta is padding up for Wednesday’s willow war.
From local clubs in skipper Sourav Ganguly’s backyard to roadside hangouts to star hotels, the cricket countdown reached fever pitch by Tuesday evening.
Leading the list of those making special plans for the last match at Lahore is power utility CESC. “We are geared up to tackle any problem that may arise. A 24-hour alert has been issued,” said a spokesperson, wary of a repeat of the power failure earlier during the series that had robbed cricket-lovers of a few precious hours of the live telecast.
Police, too, are playing it safe for the series decider. “The regular precautionary measures have all been taken. For every major cricket match where India is pitted against Pakistan, additional forces are deployed in some areas of the city. Forces already deployed have been put on high alert to prevent any untoward incident,” said Harmanprit Singh, deputy commissioner of police (headquarters).
With all eyes glued to the TV, the small-screen shops are closely monitoring sales. “TV sets are selling more since the series began,” said Jiten Chawla of Cams Corner. And the bigger, the better, with the 44 and 29-inch sets moving the swiftest. “Perhaps people want to see every swing of the ball, every stroke better and bigger,” added Chawla.
It’s all play and no work for one large section of cricket fans — schoolchildren. With most institutions enjoying a break between sessions, Wednesday is for pure viewing pleasure.
For others, though, work must mix with pleasure. “I have a shoot lined up at Space Circle in the evening and hope some arrangements will be made there,” said Tollywood’s hero number one, Prosenjit. “I don’t like to miss any match between India and Pakistan,” he added.
Industrialist Harsh Neotia plans to keep track of the afternoon session in office. “In the evening, I’ll watch it with friends. They are sure to line up something special for the game, though I don’t know what yet.”
Home is where the action is for some. “I will have to watch the match on TV since I’m not a film star or celebrity to go to Pakistan,” quipped former tennis star Naresh Kumar. So, the ‘final’ will be a quiet affair at home with the family.
“I don’t believe in these idiotic stories of the match results being pre-planned,” exclaimed Kumar, “and Wednesday’s game is sure to be worth watching.”
Office attendance, and attention, is bound to take a hit, too. “Attendance is sure to be lower than usual,” said the spokesperson of an IT company in Saltlec. “Those who come in will have one eye on the computer screen and the other on the TV screen.”
The fun will also be flowing at restaurants and nightclubs around town, with giant screens and mega offers till the last ball is bowled.