It was a noisy night at Cuttack's Barabati Stadium when India comfortably chased down a target of 271 set by England. The team were on a high and so was the country. Leading the ODI series 5-0, they were on course for a 7-0 whitewash. Little did anyone know the excitement would be swept aside soon.
The day was November 26, 2008. A pall of gloom engulfed Mumbai after Ajmal Kasab and his fellow terrorists attacked the city, and laid siege to its iconic landmark - the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.
A fortnight before the attack, England were staying at the hotel. They might have counted their blessings then but are back at the same hotel, on the fourth anniversary of the deadly attacks when the city and the nation will pay respects to the innocent victims and martyrs.
The hotel's general manager, Gaurav Pokhriyal, said, “It is a tradition for the hotel to be associated with cricket. Whenever teams are playing in Mumbai, be it the World Cup or any other match, the Taj plays host.”
A hotel employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said it was just another day at work. “We ensure that guests, including cricketers, face no problems during their stay. However, when the teams are here, the place becomes a fortress.”
“I can't show my emotions even though it is a great experience seeing players.”
For Deepak Jayaram, cricket is synonymous with the Mumbai spirit. “While we were shaken, we had to get up and move on. And cricket played a crucial role,” said the senior advertising professional.
Subash Rao, a corporate executive, said: “Cricket at this time will have an impact on the city. An India win will be symbolic and provide solace.”