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ICC World Cup 2023

Three generations of Kolkatans watch WC final at home, more than 200 flock to a ground

Thousands huddled before screen, neighbours flock to ground, kids cheer on at school

Debraj Mitra, Jhinuk Mazumdar | Published 20.11.23, 05:51 AM
Anxious faces at the atrium of South City Mall, where visitors watched the match on a giant screen

Anxious faces at the atrium of South City Mall, where visitors watched the match on a giant screen

Three generations of Kolkatans watched the World Cup cricket final together at home. More than 200 people flocked to a ground. It was difficult to tell diners from waiters at a pub because everyone was in a blue shirt.

The road was the only deserted place in the city on Sunday as everyone feasted on cricket. Sunday was another example of how India’s favourite sport blurred the differences of age and religion.


As soon as India were put in by Pat Cummins, people started huddling in front of the screen, big or small. Around 2pm, more than 50 people had gathered at Ashoknagar Park in Tollygunge. The mood was festive.

Minutes later, when Rohit Sharma struck the first boundary off Josh Hazlewood, a collective roar was let out and a group of women started blowing conch shells.

Avya Bhattacharya, four, posed for pictures with the Tricolour. “She loves celebrations. She has been shouting Indiaa, Indiaa since morning,” said Oyndrila Bhattacharya, her mother.

Around 7km away, at the Kasia Bagan ground in Beckbagan, a two-minute walk from Quest Mall, a 32ftX14ft screen was installed.

Around 3.30pm, at least 200 people watched the match together. The Tricolour was fluttering everywhere. “The way India have played so far, they deserve the Cup,” said B. Akhtar, 78, a resident of the locality. He was seated in the front row.

Akhtar has been watching cricket for more than four decades. “I was a huge fan of Kapil Dev. Now, I really like Rohit Sharma,” said Akhtar.

“We had started preparations for the screening after the first four matches India played. Some said we were jumping the gun. But look, here we are,” said Sharique Ahmed, who organised the screening.

A stone’s throw from Quest Mall, inside a sprawling fifth-floor apartment on Jhowtala Road, three generations of a family watched the match with their friends.

The hosts were Mohit and Smriti Madan, their parents Inder and Promilla, son Manav and his wife Priyal Bose. Manav, couched at the corner of a sofa, was not allowed to get up even to go to the washroom.

“Every time he gets up, a wicket goes down,” said Priyal.

Giving the group company was Mylo, a golden retriever.

The loudest fan in the room was Mohit’s 83-year-old father-in-law, Ravi Khettry. He tied Indian flag-shaped pins on everyone who came in. “The Cup is coming,” said Khettry, a former president of Saturday Club.

Most malls in the city had organised screenings.

Around 2.30pm, the atrium of South City Mall was crowded. But the stores were empty. Everyone was busy watching the match on the giant screen. As Virat Kohli smashed three consecutive boundaries against Micthell Starc, the roar hit the roof.

The entire atrium was decked out in blue and Indian flags. The moment a boundary was hit, Punjabi dholis swung into action.

Amit Debnath, wife Suparna Dutta and their four-year-old son Aayudhi, all in blue shirts, were cheering for Kohli and Rohit. “We came here because we wanted to watch the match with everyone else,” said Suparna.

Chittendra Shome, bound to a wheelchair, was watching the match at the atrium. “My wife has gone to buy something. I said I would rather watch the match,” said Shome, who lives in Lake Gardens and was accompanied by a caregiver.

At the Lord of the Drinks, a gastropub in the mall, it was difficult to tell diners from waiters. Everyone was in a blue shirt.

As Rohit Sharma hit a four and a six off Glen Maxwell, the place erupted. But there was a stunned silence the moment India’s captain was dismissed the very next ball.

Olterra, a pub off Park Street, was packed around 4pm. By that time, India were struggling after the loss of four wickets. The pub was still packed.

Chahat Soudhani had come with friends Jai Pandey and Rishabh Chowdhury. All three looked tense. “I think it is going to be a tight contest. I also think India might just scrape through,” said Pandey.

Some 100 students at St Augustine’s Day School Shyamnagar were at the school since afternoon watching the match.

“Sir, what had happened in 2003? How did India lose to Australia?” asked a 17-year-old, referring to the last time India faced Australia in a World Cup final.

As India started losing wickets, the boys and girls looked sad but did not lose hope.

“They believe it is a defendable target. A World Cup final is a momentous occasion and we thought the school family could get together to watch it,” said Rodney Borneo, principal of the school.

Busy roads had become deserted by the afternoon. A ride from Tollygunge to Park Circus took just 12-odd minutes, half of what it takes on a Sunday afternoon.

Last updated on 20.11.23, 09:26 AM

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