The usual bustle was missing from the roads and streets of Kolkata on Sunday hours before the ICC Champions Trophy cricket final between arch rivals India and Pakistan in England. It seemed an unofficial shutdown as the day progressed, with grocery shops downing shutters early and the ususal weekend shopping crowd deciding to stay away from malls and at home at enjoy the contest. As the clock ticked, lesser and lesser number of people — and vehicles — were seen at important junctions in the metropolis as cricket-crazy residents prepared for the start of the match at 3 p.m., as per the Indian Standard Time, at The Oval in London.
Otherwise busy streets and crossings like Shyambazar five-point crossing, Park Circus seven-point crossing and Esplanade junction wore a deserted look. There were posters of Indian cricketers, especially the famed trio of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and skipper Virat Kohli, looking down at the Esplanade crossing. On the other hand, many pubs decided to open early and lure prospective customers with ‘buy two, get three’ beer offers. Giant screens to show the match have also come up in some localities. Meanwhile, legendary India batsman V.V.S. Laxman tweeted: “Good luck Team India for the #CT17Final.”
Former Pakistan skipper Misbah-Ul-Haq, who will forever rue trying to play that scooped shot over short fine leg and getting out to gift India the 2007 T20 World Cup, said he is looking forward to a “fearless show” from Sarfraz Ahmed and his boys.”All the best to @SarfarazA_54 & the entire team. Looking forward to a fearless performance,” the 43-year old tweeted.