If Wednesday’s India-Pakistan World Cup semi-final brought Mumbai to a standstill, expect even more hysteria on Saturday as India take on Sri Lanka in the final at Wankhede stadium.
Like on Thursday, the city’s pubs and bars are expected to overflow with cricket fanatics, who’ll cheer every Indian run and the fall of every Sri Lankan wicket. Expect vuvuzelas, drums, whistles and painted faces. Also expect the liquor to flow by the barrel.
“The prefect plan would be to, by some miracle, manage a match ticket. If not, the convocation hall at IIT-B will turn into a stadium, with everyone painting their faces in the colours of the Indian flag,” said Aditya Gandhi, an IIT student.
Being a Saturday, several businesses would be shut so office parties may be out for the most part. However, expect more house parties in Mumbai and at farmhouses outside the city.
Many housing societies and clubs, such as Shivaji Park Gymkhana, are putting up giant screens. The gymkhana members hoped to see Sachin Tendulkar score his 100th international century on Wednesday. When he got out on 85, they hoped they could watch him achieve the feat on Saturday.
The Maharashtra government, meanwhile, has declared a special public holiday in Mumbai for Saturday. This will enable educational institutions and businesses to officially declare a holiday. “The holiday was declared under the Negotiable Instruments Act,” said an official on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
The city is expected to see an influx of VVIPs, including President Pratibha Patil and her Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa. Among the business glitterati, the likes of Reliance head Mukesh Ambani have booked corporate boxes to watch the final.
There is likely to be a large Bollywood contingent too, including actors Sunil Shetty and Abhishek Bachchan.
The state is taking no chances with security. No cars are being allowed within a kilometre of Wankhede. The Navy and Coast Guard have stepped up security in the sea. Ships, fast-attack craft, patrol vessels and interceptor craft have been deployed to counter terrorists who may try to sneak in from the sea.
In anticipation of the VIP flights, the airport has suspended runway repairs on Saturday.
Inputs from agencies
Govt offices to be shut for final, but exams will be on
mumbai: The state government has declared an official holiday in the city on Saturday, when India will take on Sri Lanka for the World Cup final to be played at Wankhede stadium.
But students who have exams on Saturday will have to trudge to their examination centres.
“The university exams shall be as per schedule. There are several final-year undergraduate exams scheduled on Saturday,” said Vilas Shinde, controller of examinations.
The decision was taken on Thursday after the Mumbai police requested the government to declare a holiday on Saturday to reduce crowd movement in the city, particularly south Mumbai, where the stadium is located.
Though government and semi-government offices will remain shut on Saturday, all state employees who have been deputed at examination centres will have to report for duty.
Colleges and schools in the city, too, have individual examinations going on.
“We are still waiting for official instructions from the university. Exams are held during the morning session so students will be able to watch the match,” said Marie Fernandes, principal, St Andrew’s College, Bandra.
While primary schools are shut on Saturdays, city schools said that secondary students’ exams end by 1.30pm and they will be able to catch the final.
Students are not too pleased with this exclusion.
“Why should we not have a day off, if the rest of the city is getting one? To begin with, we have not been able to see all the matches because of the exam pressure,” said Sneha Nata, a final-year arts student.