Most working professionals left work early on Wednesday afternoon to witness the India-Pakistan World Cup semi-final. And the boys in blue didn’t disappoint them.
There was a curfew-like silence in the streets, but cheering from bars and pubs reached a deafening crescendo each time India scored a run.
Cricket buffs turned out in their Team India jerseys and afro blue wigs, and the first 40 overs of India’s innings saw a lot of optimism from the crowd. Pitchers of beer and sangria were downed swiftly, faces were painted in orange, white and green and whistles and vuvuzelas were blown at ear-piercing decibels. At Bandra bar Bonobo, a dholwala belted out bhangra beats each time India hit a boundary.
“We are celebrating the office’s second anniversary, and this is the best way to do it. We’ve had five rounds of beer already,” said Shahid Shaikh, 30, an employee at a research and conference firm, who was watching the match at Bonobo.
Across the street, at Mumbai Times Café, hordes of fans coaxed the manager to let them into the already overcrowded joint. One such cricket buff, Kadambari Sadekar, 24, a fashion designer, got to the pub well in advance at 12.30 pm to beat the rush. “I came here early to get a good table,” said a determined Sadekar, who had used nail paint to paint her face with the Indian flag’s colours.
As soon as Tendulkar reached his half-century, the celebrations gained momentum on the third floor of Palladium Mall at Lower Parel. “India all the way!” said Nitai Utkarsh, 30, a banker, who was catching the match at the Manchester United Café. As Tendulkar went on to hit a four, Sagar Vig 24, a nautical officer, said: “The cricketing god is firing up the Pakistanis.”
A similar scene was played out at Colaba. People stood on pavements peeping into restaurants and pubs to catch a glimpse of the action.
But silence washed over the pubs as India’s luck started running out after the 36th over when Tendulkar got out, followed by captain MS Dhoni.
The turn of events in the Indian innings didn’t dissuade the audience at WTF, Andheri, either. They passed around food like friends in battle. Dilip Gargia, 23, a media planning manager, said: “Raina supported the batting innings, which ended well at least.”