Two days to go, venue abuzz with excitement

Many fans who had bought tickets were hoping for blockbuster India vs Pak semi-final at Eden, which was a possibility until New Zealand’s thumping victory over Sri Lanka in the group stage

Debraj Mitra Kolkata Published 15.11.23, 05:48 AM
Eden Gardens

Eden Gardens File picture

The Eden Gardens will host a 50-over World Cup knockout match after 36 years when Australia and South Africa lock horns in the semi-final on Thursday.

Two days to go, the excitement was palpable around the stadium.


A crowd had gathered outside Eden around 4pm. The Australian team was practising inside.

Glen Maxwell, the toast of the tournament after his superlative double century against Afghanistan, came out with a couple of support staff around 4.45pm.

Within barely a minute, he got into a white SUV parked right outside the stadium. But it was enough for a section of the fans to spot him and come running towards the car, only to be stopped midway by the cops.

Kono maane hoy? Ektu egolei chhobita hoye jeto (Does this make any sense? I was almost close enough to take a picture),” said Sourav Dutta, a college student who had come all the way from his Behala home just hoping he could take some pictures of the players when the team buses arrived.

He has a ticket for the semi-final.

Some 15 minutes earlier, the Proteas team bus had arrived. But the cops had set up a barricade to keep the waiting fans at least 20m away from the bus.

Around 4.20pm, Sanchita Mukherjee and Manojit Sarkar were taking a picture against the backdrop of the majestic Eden facade. Both are pursuing master’s in economics at Calcutta University and are cricket buffs.

Sarkar, who was wearing a T-shirt with Virat Kohli’s face and jersey number, had seen all three matches that Eden hosted this World Cup.

“The Kohli century against South Africa was the ultimate experience. On Thursday, I am hoping for a solid game of cricket,” he said.

Mukherjee, who watched the England-versus-Pakistan game at Eden, also hoped for a good contest. “But the Aussies are more likely to win,” she said.

The queue at the counters to collect online tickets near the Mohammedan Sporting Club ground were as busy as they are before an IPL match.

No small feat, considering that an IPL match at Eden features the home team,

Many of the fans who had bought tickets were hoping for a blockbuster India-versus-Pakistan semi-final at the Eden, which was a possibility until New Zealand’s thumping victory over Sri Lanka in the group stage.

One of them was Moyeen Chowdhury, an intern at the National Medical College and Hospital, who had come to collect two tickets.

“The prospect of an India-Pakistan semi-final was lip-smacking. But I am very excited about the match anyway. Both teams are title contenders. It should be a close contest. A World Cup semi-final at Eden is special,” said Chowdhury, who is from Durgapur.

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