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Their hearts beat for Team India

If you thought that on the Budget Day, viewers were glued to their TV sets, you are wrong. Almost all talk across the length and breath of the country was centred on whether India would beat the arch rivals once again in the Cup.

india Updated: Mar 01, 2003 02:52 IST

India vs Pakistan. This is one clash that evokes such gamut of emotions -- passion, pride and pain -- it leaves the cricket fans drained. But then, this is what the mother of all contests is about.

If you thought that on the Budget Day, viewers were glued to their TV sets, you are wrong. Almost all talk across the length and breath of the country was centred on whether India would beat the arch rivals once again in the Cup.

Even the politicians were not to be left behind, with Trinamool Congress supremo Mamta Banerjeee hazarding a natural guess. "India is going to win on Saturday and my party office is going to be closed on Saturday," she said in Calcutta on Friday. To be sure, the lady who can generate an uncomfortable decibel level even in the hallowed precincts of the Parliament, has said it would be an off-day for her workers.

"There will be only one business for us on Saturday, watching India beat Pakistan," said Mamta on Friday.

In such a scenario, the men on the streets of Calcutta are not going to take it easy. Reports filtering in clearly indicate that police patrolling will be at its peak, given the feelings such a high voltage contest generates.

Meanwhile, at the Azad Maidan in Mumbai on Friday (Jumma), all prayers were for an Indian win. "We are praying for the Indian victory," said Rukhsana Qureshi, even as she waved a huge poster of Sachin Tendulkar. Mind you, Ruksana is a special citizen -- a corporator in Bhivadi -- and has travelled for this congregation all the way from Thane. She had to be part of the meeting organised by the Muslim Council of India.

Rukhsana was not alone when she came. There were several more. Burkha-clad women carrying the tricolour capturing what Ganguly and his boys are talking about - Team India.

Close to the border where India vs Pakistan has a very different connotation in everyday life, the masses were discussing cricket. In Srinagar, hordes of people - young and old - were strolling the streets discussing cricket. Yes, the feeling was different, as Tanwirul Haque conversed with a group of classmates. "Pakistani bowlers have the potential to destroy any bating order," he yelled at the SP College on the Moulana Azad Road.

Oh yes, there were few voices, which did not agree. "Don't forget that India have outplayed Pakistan in all the three matches the two countries have played in the previous World Cups," said one.

In Piparsand, near Lucknow, the excitement was palpable. For residents here, it was a race against time as they were stretching the cable wires right to their villages so that they could watch the drama unfold ---- ball by ball. Our here, people don't know whether the tearaway Ashish is a Nehra or a Mehra! All that matters is he bowls quick and takes wickets. The local priest here - Baba Surjan Giri -- doesn't know between Sachin from Sourav.

Then there's Sundari Devi too, a 45-year-old pulling the pallu over her face. Hardly matters, as long as she can see India beat Pakistan!

First Published: Mar 01, 2003 02:52 IST