This Wednesday (March 2011), all roads will lead to Mohali. More then a billion pair of eyes will be trained on one ground where the battle of all battles between two cricketing giants will take place amidst a roaring crowd of thousands. The fact is today Chandigarh resembles a high security fortress with anti aircraft guns placed at important locations and Mohali being declared a no-fly zone. If this is not enough, squads from Special Protection Group, National Security Guard, National and State Reserve Police Forces have also being deployed in and around Mohali and with Indian Air Force on an emergency standby, Chandigarh and Mohali to specify, looks ready for an immediate battle with Pakistan and for once, the battle will be fought on the cricketing pitch where the India team takes on the ruthless Pakistan team in the second semi final of the ICC World Cup 2011.
For once, the Prime Ministers of both the countries will lead from the front when they join the 28,000 odd spectators in the stadium to watch the battle being fought between the two cricket teams. This is the first of India Pakistan clash on the cricket field after the terrible November 2008 Mumbai mayhem incident. But for a change, this battle will be fought to rebuild peace between the two warring nations. It’s anybody’s guess whether the two countries firmly believe in the paradox, ‘Fight For Peace’.
The big question however is, will the game of cricket be lost in this high spectacle of security concerns when India takes on Pakistan in the semi final clash of the cricket world cup on Wednesday at the Mohali stadium? With not just the guns and high security forces but unmanned air vehicles as well to monitor the airspace around the city for the next couple of days, including sophisticated weapons at the disposal of the security units, it leaves little to the imagination that it’s a simple game of cricket that is the centre of attraction for the millions around the country and the world at large.
But the battle is not just being fought on the cricketing pitch. Its being fought outside as well where a mad rush for tickets is likely to end up with broken jaws and bleeding noses. And fighting tooth and nail for tickets to the big shows are not just the fans of cricket but politicians and business honchos as well who are making a last minute rush to get their hands on tickets that has already been sold out. And then there is a chaos at the airport where the jet setting people are waging a mini war with the airport officials over their private aircraft parking. In a small airport that can accommodate just about 3 or so aircrafts, it’s a hurricane task for the airport officials to manage more than half of a dozen of private aircrafts that are going to make a landing on the day preceding the D Day and on the D Day itself.
And then there are hotels that have borrowed the houseful boards from cinema halls around the city to put it up outside their hotels as a mad clamber for accommodations rolls on. After all, the winner takes it all. Most of the hotels have been booked by the cricket aficionados across all class and countries that has come to watch the mighty cricket spectacle on Wednesday. And yes, another interesting battle is being fought for the Indian visa in Pakistan. With hardly any visa being offered to the general public who wants to make it to the battle ground in time, most of the fans would be left in a lurch as whatever visas currently on offer are for the government officials as well as cricket administration officials including the Pakistan Prime Minister Syed Yusaf Raza Gilani.
And when battles for tickets and other cricketing actions happen in and around Mohali, can Bollywood be far behind? Two superstars of Bollywood i.e. Aamir Khan and Shahrukh Khan are having their own battles to out do each other on Wednesday when they will host their friends at their respective places to watch the ICC World Cup semi final between India and Pakistan. Arch rivals in the Hindi film industry, both the superstars have invited their selected bunch of friends over. If Shahrukh’s close friends like Hrithik Roshan, Karan Johar, Arjun Rampal, Chunky Pandey among others will grace the occasion at Shahrukh’s palatial bungalow ‘Mannat’, then Aamir’s close pals Kunal Kapoor, Sharman Joshi, Raju Hirani, Imran Khan and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra among others will throng at his residence despite a gruesome schedule most of them have lined up. Between the battle among the two superstars to see who gets the maximum eyeballs from the media and the public at large, it will be fun to watch which of the mighty two Khans are preferred for the big day bash by their common friends. Will it be one inning at their respective places or will their common friends skip the invites for the cool comforts of their own homes and avoid the discomfort altogether?
And not to forget the countless pubs, sports and regular bars and restaurants across the country that will try to woo the cricket loving fans to its joints in order to boost the revenue scale. Intense battle to attract the maximum patrons will be keenly fought. Who makes the maximum amount of money is to be seen.
And finally news channels who are going to throw up exciting cricket related filler programmes to grab the maximum eyeballs in the form of TRPs. However, it’s going to be ESPNSTAR who is going to be laughing all the way to the bank with the battle of all advertising revenue generating cricket game – India vs. Pakistan being the baap of all matches and definitely the father of advertising revenue for the sporting channel.
Like the four full fledged wars that have been fought on the borders between the two countries since 1947, its mere coincidence that India and Pakistan also met each other on the cricket pitch just four times in the last nine ICC World Cup editions over the years. And on each of these occasions, India had come out victorious. Just like the wars on the borders, India got the upper hands on the cricket pitch as well starting from the first encounter against its arch rival Pakistan in 1992 World Cup edition to the fourth match at the Centurion, South Africa way back in 2003. It has been 8 long years of wait and the Indian team and the billions of its fans will be hoping that the fifth win doesn’t elude India.
This battle on the cricket pitch will no doubt be looked upon as a proxy war by billions around the world. But none can ignore the fact that this gentleman’s game can do what nothing else has been able to do for a long time – bridge the divide between the two warring nations. Cricket for once will play a stellar role on the ground in front of 28,000 odd spectators including the Prime Ministers of the two nations and on television sets across the world watched by billions of its fans. The 22 players from the two nations for now, can take a bow! They will be performing supporting roles to the main protagonist – Cricket! If for a change cricket succeeds this time in bridging the divide, few more millions will join the fan club of this game of cricket. Whosoever wins the Wednesday battle, the real winner for once will be cricket!