Wednesday, August 4

All roads lead to pink Eden in Kolkata

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When the two captains walk up to the 22 yards for the toss, the stands at the Eden Gardens will play host to two broad groups of spectators — one who have pure passion for the longer format of the game and the other who just want to be a part of history and are more interested about the pink ball debut on Indian soil. The second lot is expected to outnumber the first by a comfortable margin.

Football fanatic Subhasis Saha (28), who swears by Mohamed Salah and Raheem Sterling, said he was more upbeat about the resumption of the English Premiere League from this Saturday. But among the 65,000 odd spectators at a soldout Eden Gardens stands this weekend, Saha will be at Block C, just to be a part of the frenzy and watch live how the pink ball plays under floodlights.

“I have never been a cricket fanatic but this whole idea of playing a Test match under floodlights and with a pink ball is exciting. Hence, I will be at the stadium with a group of friends over this weekend,” said Saha, a Jadavpur resident.

Another young spectator, Harshal Shah (21), said he would be at the stadium just for the sheer excitement of sharing the arena with stalwarts like Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar. “It will be a dream come true, reliving the stalwarts together at the ground. I can’t miss it at any cost,” said Shah.

According to CAB sources, such has been the craze that the officials are finding it difficult to entertain requests for tickets. “This kind of craze is there only for IPL matches these days. Seeing such enthusiasm for a Test match is certainly relishing,” said a CAB official.

The officials have also lined up a slew of surprises during the match. A team of BSF South Bengal frontiers brass band will perform national anthems for both the teams. And then, the two teams will be ushered in by children suffering from HIV. These children will also get an opportunity to play cricket with a soft pink ball with some of the stalwarts.

“It is mainly the atmosphere that is going to drag the crowds to Eden. I have been a regular at most matches at Eden and have also watched a few Test matches. The entire concept of pink ball is new and makes people feel proud that we in West Bengal are getting to host it,” said Anindyo Nandi, 50-year-old official at a private bank and an Eden Gardens veteran.

For Jinen Udani, a 27-year-old second division club player, the pull was not pink ball or floodlights. “I am a big-time Dada fan. Sourav Ganguly is the best thing to happen to BCCI. I’m really looking forward to the Test match because India is in their best form. Ganguly being a leading captain himself, has also ensured that our city gets to host the first day-night Test in India,” said Udani.


Source: Times of India

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