Sitting in the stands at the Chaudhary Bansi Lal Stadium, Ram Saran Malhotra, 65, stares wistfully at the square.
“A few years back that’s where I used to grow sugarcane,” he says. Shifting his gaze to the cover region he talks about his dhaan fields; pointing to midwicket he remembers his chanaa saplings.
Being the owner of 28 acres of fertile agricultural land around the stadium would see him make the cut to Lahli’s Fortune 50 any day but that’s not the reason he is the most important man in this hamlet near Rohtak, which has a population of about 5,400.
By virtue of being the one-time owner of the land that will host the Mumbai-Haryana Ranji Trophy game — more importantly the patch of land where Sachin Tendulkar will start his long walk to the exit — the old man in spotless white kurta-pyjama has got 50 VIP passes for the Sunday-to-Wednesday game.
That thick, multi-coloured stack on which is printed ‘Block A, Level 1’ bulges in his kurta pocket, making him the envy of Lahli. It is understandable since the rest of the villagers will have to figure out a way to distribute 550 passes among themselves.
Tendulkar’s much anticipated last domestic game happens to be in their backyard and no one wants to miss it around here. The quaint outpost has to deal with complications it has never dreamed about.
“I am getting a headache, the phone hasn’t stopped ringing. Just now my doctor called. How do I refuse him? I am an old man,” says Malhotra, sipping tea after a hearty meal at the stadium.
But there is someone else here who happens to be in a bigger fix. Sarpanch Bahadur Singh is the man given the responsibility of collecting the passes from the Haryana Cricket Association officials, carrying them to the village and the dreaded job of distributing them.
For the last 10 days, the village talk has been about who the sarpanch will favour and who will get his snub. At the bus stop next to NH10, where the village elders exchange gossip and news over