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ICC World Cup semi-final: Mall to bar, city feasts on match

Double delight as siblings watch game together on Bhai Phonta

Debraj Mitra | Published 16.11.23, 05:35 AM
Visitors to South City Mall watch the India-New Zealand semi-final match of the World Cup on a giant screen on Wednesday.

Visitors to South City Mall watch the India-New Zealand semi-final match of the World Cup on a giant screen on Wednesday.

Pictures by Pradip Sanyal and Bishwarup Dutta

Siblings feasted on cricket after ages. Revellers at a pub bowed to the master. Not to mention the deafening noise of crackers.

The city’s tryst with the World Cup semi-final had many manifestations.

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In the 42nd over, after swatting Lockie Ferguson to the leg side to bring up his 50th ODI century, Virat Kohli bowed to the gallery. It was a gesture to Sachin Tendulkar, whose record he surpassed and who was in the stands.

At The Grid, a microbrewery in Topsia, a crowd of over 100 did an encore. They bowed to King Kohli. Most of them were in blue jerseys

“We have been very busy since ball one. But the best moment came when Kohli reached the milestone,” said Gaurav Karnani, the owner.

Many offices were shut for Bhai Phonta and festive spirit only amplified the celebrations.

Fans gather outside a club on Prince Anwar Shah Road to watch the match on Wednesday evening.

Fans gather outside a club on Prince Anwar Shah Road to watch the match on Wednesday evening.

Dalia Majumder, who lives near the 8B bus stand in Jadavpur, had elder brother Debjyoti come down from Siliguri for the annual ritual. The siblings sat down to watch the match after a hearty lunch.

“I don’t remember the last time we watched a match together like this. Maybe the 2011 World Cup final. The phonta and the match made for a double delight today,” said Dalia, who works with a multinational technology conglomerate.

At a house near Dum Dum Cantonment, the Bhai Phonta is an annual celebration that sees the gathering of around a dozen siblings from all age groups.

“Today, after lunch, we sat down to watch the match together. Even the elderly, who prefer a nap after lunch, were wide awake to see the match,” said Srijeeb Krishna Mukherjee, one of the siblings.

India posted a mammoth total but the Kiwi fightback, led by Daryl Mitchell and captain Kane Williamson, had the viewers tensed. The relief came in the form of a deafening roar at a club on Prince Anwar Shah Road when Mohammed Shami got back-to-back wickets of Kane Williamson and the next batsman, Tom Latham.

“I barely have any nails left,” said Tapas Bag, a resident who was watching the match.

Around 6.50pm, when Mohammed Shami struck in his first ball to dismiss Devon Conway, the Kiwi opener, a bar in Dalhousie erupted in joy.

The watering holes in the office para are usually not very busy on holidays. But MS Bar & Lounge, on Waterloo Street, had at least 25 people. “It is a holiday. We had planned to watch the second innings together if India batted well in the first,” said Durgesh Thakur, an employee of a PSU bank who had come with a group of five friends.

At Lake Club, more than 100 people watched the match on a giant screen set up at the central lawn.

“Happiness is multiplied when shared. This Indian team has given us so much happiness. Why enjoy it alone,” said Subhasish Roy, a veteran member of the club.

Around 4.40pm, South City Mall was crowded but only alongside the railings, the best place to watch the match on the giant screen.

Diptayan Chakraborty, who lives in Garfa, had come to the mall to buy a gift for his parents, who will celebrate their wedding anniversary on Sunday. He bought a frame and then spent an hour watching the match at the atrium of the mall.

“When I was about to leave, Kohli was batting on 80-odd runs. I did not want to miss the century. But even after he was dismissed, I watched what remained of the Indian innings,” said Chakraborty, 34.

As the sun went down, the firecrackers lit up the night sky. Every time a Kiwi wicket fell, the sky was lit up. But even when Kohli was batting, crackers were burst frequently.

The closer Kohli came to the century, the emptier the roads turned. Around 5.30pm, the intersection of SP Mukherjee Road and Rashbehari Avenue, one of the busiest in south Calcutta, was so deserted that a pedestrian could count the number of cars.

Last updated on 16.11.23, 05:37 AM
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