All roads lead to Mohali for "mother of all contests"

Published: March 27, 2011

Nothing gets bigger in this part of the globe than a cricket match featuring India and Pakistan. PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI: A tiny north Indian city has overnight become a hottest tourist destination, drawing Prime Ministers, corporate czars, showbiz celebrities and passionate fans for what is touted as the “mother of all cricket contests”.

Nothing gets bigger in this part of the globe than a cricket match featuring India and Pakistan, who fought three wars since their independence from Britain in 1947.

The rivalry would be renewed in Wednesday’s World Cup semi-final in Mohali in the state of Punjab and the city administration is already bracing for a logistical nightmare.

Many government and cricket officials fear the match could be a potential tinderbox given the emotions involved and some have urged the fans and the media not to hype what is essentially a cricket contest.

“It’s like any other match. The media hype around the match, I think, is totally unnecessary,” Pakistan team manager Intikhab Alam told CNN-IBN channel.

“We have come here to play cricket. This is not war field or anything. I’m sure you will see a great game of cricket,” said the former Pakistan captain, who has coached the Punjab team in Ranji trophy.

Even South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis hoped the high-profile match would pass without anything untoward.

Cricket diplomacy

“India v Pakistan in Mohali is a spectacle not to be ignored. Like everyone else, my greatest wish is that the match takes place without any ‘incident’, either on or off the field,” he wrote in a column that appeared in Sunday’s Hindustan Times newspaper.

Former India pace bowler Javagal Srinath advised the Indian nteam not to let the “dream semi-final” to distract them from their ultimate goal of winning the title.

“The general perception among the Indian fans that beating Pakistan is the be-all and end-all must change,” Srinath wrote in the same newspaper.

“We have to move out of that line of thinking. As a nation we have evolved and I don’t think there can be any compromise on winning the final.”

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani will watch the match in what is billed as “cricket diplomacy”.

Industry moguls are not lagging behind either.

According to a newspaper report, airport authorities have received requests from business tycoons, including India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani and fellow industrialist Vijay Mallya, to allow them to park their private jets in Chandigarh.

While politicians and Bollywood celebrities will also be in tow, there is a growing sense of anger among the ticket-seeking fans who complained of large-scale black-marketing.

The CNN-IBN channel claimed tickets priced at 15,000 Indian rupees ($335.6) were available in the black market for 100,000 rupees ($2,237), while tickets priced at 10,000 were being sold at five times their original worth.

Both Chandigarh, some 10km from the stadium, and Mohali are bursting at the seam and around 2000 hotels rooms are proving inadequate to accommodate the visitors and the rush has not ended yet.

Reader Comments (18)

  • @ibmlove
    Mar 27, 2011 - 7:28PM

    Imran Khan must go to Pakistan-India semifinal match to Mohali. #CWC2011 @PTIofficial @ImranKhanPTIRecommend

  • razay
    Mar 27, 2011 - 8:52PM

    @@ibmlove:
    hahah why? what good will that do? it’s JUST a cricket match.Recommend

  • lolwut
    Mar 27, 2011 - 9:05PM

    LOL at the completely unrelated picture.Recommend

  • Nadeem Ahmed
    Mar 27, 2011 - 11:05PM

    This match is the last and final nail in our economic coffin. Whole country will be shut down for twenty four hours and many days afterwards, we win or lose, doesn’t matter. As soon as the match is over, our leaders will jump into planes again to complete their begging campaign. I am afraid, our Prime Minister might start his begging campaign right from Mohali.Recommend

  • Mar 28, 2011 - 1:21AM

    @ibmlove:
    Last time Imran went to Banglaore to watch India Pakistan quarter final in 96 and Pakistan badly defeated. I think he should stay home in the larger interest of nation.Recommend

  • Careful!!!!!!!!!!
    Mar 28, 2011 - 7:42AM

    Its the same story of 1996,1999 and 2003…Media creates unnecessary hype and then if Pak loses to India then all hell will break lose…even if it is just a game and our team has played well so far….so keep it look like a game and appreciate the performers…If we win then it will be even better….On paper India is strong but hard work of players and prayers of Pakistanis can lead them to success….anyhow be relaxed and treat it as just a game…………Recommend

  • Raj
    Mar 28, 2011 - 8:05AM

    This is the Super Bowl of the sub continent. ODI of the century.Recommend

  • SimranGurbakhsh Singh
    Mar 28, 2011 - 8:12AM

    Being resident of Mohali, I welcome PM Gilani Saab & Pakistanis for match. Irrespecitive of win or loose (that’s only players’ concern), we as spectators should cherish the a game match. For us its just another excuse to get along with each other. Let those laughing happy smiling faces brighten up Mohali’s dull & slow life.
    Aao milke bethiye te rajj rajj hasiye.Recommend

  • taj
    Mar 28, 2011 - 8:59AM

    Imran Khan is there already,,,since two days Recommend

  • taj
    Mar 28, 2011 - 9:01AM

    shiekh rashid ahmed has given his application for indian visa azwel to go see the game.Recommend

  • jibran hayat
    Mar 28, 2011 - 9:17AM

    i strongly agree that imran khan should be there to watch the semifinal Recommend

  • voxpopuli
    Mar 28, 2011 - 9:36AM

    Both nation instead of making the semifinal, a matter of life and death,should leave it as a sports event. Reading the comments on some Indian websites had forced me to think when we will grow up ?Recommend

  • Mar 28, 2011 - 9:47AM

    Just imagine the atmosphere when the two batsmen are at tge crease, batsman takes guard, and the bowler runs in for the first ball of the match and crowd could be heard a mile away from the stadium…..
    It will be one cracker of a GameRecommend

  • waqar
    Mar 28, 2011 - 1:02PM

    @Nadeem Ahmed

    You go and feed your chicken and let the ppl do what they want
    dont be a screwed up Baba of the family.Recommend

  • Jadoon
    Mar 28, 2011 - 1:52PM

    I have three options at hand 1) skip the office 2) take a half day leave or 3) try to follow the match from my office on the internet. I wish the government declares the match day a public holiday. Recommend

  • SA
    Mar 28, 2011 - 2:29PM

    This picture is so riduculously funny it has made me ROFL…Recommend

  • humaira
    Mar 29, 2011 - 10:49AM

    this would be a great cricket match of all times. being pakistani i wish my team all the best for upcoming throbbing match and pray to Allah to help pakistan reach final of world cup.. request to all to pray for country’s pride.. take it as a contest, however pray for the national team..Recommend

  • humaira
    Mar 29, 2011 - 10:53AM

    besides both nations should take it as a game irrespective of its results. we are not enemies but should prove good neighbours.. thats it.. Recommend

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