Forget sleep, food, worries, work... the World Cup Cricket is on. MetroPlus team on the mood in PuducherryFor a cricket-crazy nation, whose children take to the game even before they can pronounce it, the ongoing Cricket World Cup is even more thrilling than Star Wars. In fact, it's hard to find an equivalent to this obsession. First day first shows, examinations, work in offices and homes... everything takes a back seat when teams take on each other in the picturesque Caribbean. The mood in Puducherry is no different. Fans will follow a different timetable till the winner lifts the coveted Cup.
Glued to the TV
Even those who say they know nothing much about the game stay awake till late in the night watching the matches and the next morning head straight for the newspaper to read the sports pages. "We are going to lift the cup for the second time. I am confident of India winning as all the key players are in good form. Viru (Virendra Sehwag) too will be in form in the coming matches," says Anand, who runs a gift shop in J. N Street. "Like in the past, the trio, Saurav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, would be the mainstay." Who will win?According to Murali, member of a local cricket club, "A team from Asia (India, Sri Lanka or Pakistan) will win. That's because the wickets are slow. The pitch conditions in the West Indies are similar to those in Asia and will favour slow bowlers and spinners."Subbu, a medical representative, feels that chances are better if Sehwag is kept out. "This is not the time to experiment, especially after his miserable failure in the warm up match. Instead, someone like Dinesh Karthick must be given a chance." Wherever you go, banks, offices, schools or shops, you hear only cricket talk. Fans are eagerly waiting for India's first match to be played today. Sashee Singh, who works in a PR agency says though the West Indies is his favourite team, New Zealand is likely to win the Cup. "Not all can go to the Caribbean. But watching the matches on television with family and friends is great fun." Fans have put up banners and hoardings in support of their heroes at various spots in the town. N. K. Iyer, chief manager, Central Bank of India, Puducherry branch, whohas been collecting The Hindu's Sportstar and the Hindi sports magazine Cricket Samrat for the past 10 years, says that he will take leave to watch the finals. "Though financial year-end work keeps me tied down, I watch the first innings and catch up with the highlights the next morning." Iyer has played for his bank in the inter-zonal matches up to the age of 42. He feels Australia has a good chance of winning the Cup. Jurgen Putz of Palmyra grooms youngsters in the game. He also provides them with kits and conducts matches between local teams. Putz's room can be called a cricket shrine as one can see mementoes, posters and paper cuttings all over. "Today's youngsters not just play the game, they are also up-to-date with the statistics and keep details about bowlers and batsmen. But it really doesn't matter if millions of kids play the game in the gullies. What counts is whether they are playing it properly. We must have grounds in the rural areas too. And the interested children should be coached well," he says. Since everybody is caught in the twirl of the World Cup, hotels in Puducherry have come up with something special. Hotel Ananda Inn's "First Innings at Ecstasy" helps diners at their restaurant Ecstasy to watch the matches live on a big screen even as they tuck into their favourite dishes. Marketing manager Anand Ganesh says that the hotel has also cooked up a cricket menu and there are prizes for those who predict the winners of every match and a mega prize for tho person predicting the World Cup winner. What's more, its restaurant has got a temporary makeover of a cricket pitch, while the courtesy crew are dressed in blue. At the Promenade's Risque, select matches are being screened and there's a special West Indies Tapas menu (small bites). They also have a special offer on beverages and contests such as "guess the next boundary and you get a beverage free". Try guessing the score (15 runs here or there is fine) and you could win a meal. Aren't you bowled over?