Deserted streets and markets, empty buses and trains and people bunking work presented the picture of a nation riveted to the heart stopping World Cup cricket semi-final clash today between arch rivals India and Pakistan.
As work in a cricket crazy nation with billion plus population came to a standstill, people turned all their attention to the cricket pitch regardless whether they stayed at home or headed out. It was also half-day off for some employees in the private sector. Some state governments too announced half-day leave for employees.
People prayed that there is no power outages that could deprive them of tracking the match at Mohali on television sets. Official 'bandhs' were also declared in several factories.
In Madhya Pradesh, the state government made arrangements for supply of uninterrupted power. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan told the Assembly that the state government has purchased 1,000 MW of power worth Rs 1.80 crore to ensure there was no hiccups in supply of electricity.
State assemblies in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh wound up proceedings before the start of the blockbuster day-night match at Mohali while it was early packup for several film shootings.
Many offices reported employees falling in sick at the last moment.
With the cricket clash taking place just one day before the close of the financial year, anxious bosses in banks and financial institutions were at their wits end with many employees glued to televisions all day.
Hundreds of diamond polishing units in Surat also came to a grinding halt.
"Diamond workers and factory owners do not want to miss out the opportunity to witness one of the most interesting matches in the World Cup 2011. This is the reason the entire industry observed an official bandh on this day." said Dinesh Navadia, president of Surat Diamond Association (SDA).
Chandu Sheta, a diamond manufacturer, said, "There is no work toay. All we will do is to watch the Indian team take on Pakistan."
Kollywood also came to a standstill. Empty recording studios. No cameras rolling. No one shouting ‘Action’. This was the scene from late afternoon at Chennai, home to the south Indian film industry.
The epic contest was utilised by several families to have get-togethers and watch the action from the comfort of their homes.
The deadline conscious 24x7 Information Technology industry in Bangalore gave their work ethics a break with several companies giving employees half-a-day off.
Cormer shops and petty traders across the country kept abreast of the fireworks at Mohali with the ball-by-ball commentary blaring from the humble transistors.