Thousands of cricket fans across Bengal on Saturday were padding up for the biggest cricketing carnival set to take place on Sunday in Ahmedabad.
Across countless small neighbourhood clubs in districts across north and south Bengal, giant screens were set up to cheer for the Indian cricket team that will play the final against Australia at the ICC World Cup in Ahmedabad on Sunday.
People, including women and children, made a beeline to shops for Team India jerseys and caps.
In several sweet shops, sweets of different varieties on the World Cup theme are on display.
The cricket fever has gripped the entire state, with many organisations and individuals hosting special prayers for Team India to win the cup.
India had, memorably, lifted the cup first in 1983 under Kapil Dev's captaincy, and then in 2011 when skipper M.S. Dhoni did the honours. This time, the entire country will watch with bated breath how captain Rohit Sharma and his boys take on the Australian team led by Pat Cummins.
On Saturday, students of Santipur Malancha High School in Nadia district drew placards and posters to prepare in advance for celebratory victory. I
n Burdwan, shops selling giant Tricolours and Team India jerseys did brisk business.
In Siliguri, representatives of Siliguri Municipal Corporation were busy throughout the day to arrange installation of giant screens in various respective localities. Similar initiatives by Trinamul leaders and members of different clubs were seen in places like Kalyani, Ranaghat, North and South 24-Parganas as the evening rolled on Saturday.
Teams of youngsters in bikes and bicycles moved through the streets of Siliguri, carrying placards and the National flag while shouting “Come on India, bring back the World Cup.”
Gautam Deb, the mayor of Siliguri, reached Baghajatin Park on Saturday afternoon. The civic body has installed a giant screen at the venue to beam the match.
Accompanied by police officers, Deb checked out all the arrangements.
“The large screen has been placed at Rabindra Mancha of Baghajatin Park. We have arranged special parking for vehicles at Siliguri College ground and expect hundreds to turn up at the venue to watch the finals,” he said.
Across the city, clubs and groups of sports lovers have made similar arrangements for the final match. At Bidhan Market, the largest retail marketplace in Siliguri, shopkeepers sold jerseys, the most popular being that of Virat Kohli, number 18.
“The demand for Kohli’s jersey is on top, Md Shami comes second,” said one of them.
In Cooch Behar, members of Astha Foundation organised a special yajna at Madan Mohan temple. They offered Puja in the name of each member of India’s squad and prayed for Sunday's victory.
Later, representatives of the organisation hit the streets with placards and banners in support of the Indian team.
“We want our team to win the cup and share the excitement with all by watching live streaming of the match on a giant screen,” said Rabindranath Ghosh, the chairman of Cooch Behar municipality.
The civic body and Cooch Behar Press Club are jointly arranging live streaming of the match at Brahma Mandir ground. Members of New Town Unit, a club based in Cooch Behar, will unfurl a 160-metre-long Indian flag on Sunday.
In Jalpaiguri, the civic board and Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority arranged live streaming of the match in four locations, said sources.
In North Dinajpur, an NGO organised a prayer for the success of Team India near Kulik Bird Sanctuary. A giant screen will be put up in Raiganj town on Sunday, sources said.
Similar arrangements have been made in Malda and Alipurduar towns for Sunday as well.