| | |
Watching cricket is the only business that will be going on in India's financial capital on Saturday when Mumbai's favourite son Sachin Tendulkar could raise his stock even further with victory in the World Cup final.
Government offices will be shut while those in the private sector will have to work, or at least pretend to, before they rush home or go to a pub to watch India fight it out with an equally ambitious Sri Lanka for the ultimate prize in one-day cricket.
Some have already visualised a happy ending for India -- with Tendulkar scoring his 100th international century en route to winning the only silverware missing from his cupboard.
"We all want Sachin to get his 100th century and win it single-handedly," amateur cricketer Sunil Bhave told Reuters as he picked up an assortment of bats, gloves, stumps and pads after playing a match at the city's Azad Maidan.
"Considering it is his final World Cup, Sachin deserves it."
Bhave, however, was worried about one thing.
"Often when Tendulkar scores a century, the team does not win. I would not mind if he is stuck on 99th and India beat Sri Lanka," he added.
Such a script would barely look out of place in the city's prolific film industry, which produced the Oscar-nominated film "Lagaan" in which a village simpleton beat a team of Englishmen.
The leading actor in that film, Aamir Khan, will be among the 33,000 fans lucky enough to get a ringside seat for the final.
Nitin, a cleaner at the Wankhede Stadium, could not believe his luck when he was picked to clear plates and other rubbish from the hospitality area of the arena on Saturday.
"I could not imagine I would get a chance to watch Sachin play," Nitin told Reuters.
"My friends are jealous of me. I'm happy I got to see Sachin. Of course I want India to win but I would have no complaint even if they don't."
Kanhaiyalal Tiwari, a betel leaf seller outside Wankhede's gate number four, ruled out the possibility of India losing.
"After beating Australia and Pakistan, Sri Lanka should be a pushover. Even if only Virender Sehwag can bat until the 20th over, Sri Lanka can forget winning the match," he said.
A migrant from Bihar, Tiwari was not sure if he could continue his business on Saturday.
"With so many people coming, it should be a brisk business on Saturday but police may not allow us anywhere near the gate. I would not mind it if India wins."
As a clock in front of the Wankhede Stadium counted down the final hours to the showpiece match, there was only one topic of conversation among the city's 14 million residents.
But in case anyone needed to be reminded about the significance of April 2, a number of blue double-decker buses could be seen coasting along Marine Drive, promoting the "Cup that Counts".
While many Indians are likely to endure a sleepless night wondering what fate has in store for Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men on Saturday, one man was looking forward to a relaxing evening.
"I will have sound sleep tonight. Both the captains are happy with the pitch and I have absolutely no worries," Wankhede curator Sudhir Naik told Reuters.
ADS BY GOOGLE
video of the day
Dont see mkt going anywhere now; like Bharat Forge: Dipen