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WT20: Big cheers for Amitabh Bachchan at Eden Gardens

Bollywood megastar shares spotlight with cricketers at packed Eden Gardens

Kolkata: Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan received one of the loudest cheers during the pre-match felicitation for former Indian and Pakistani cricketers at the Eden Gardens. And he wooed the 65,000-strong capacity crowd perfectly with his brief yet appealing speech in chaste Hindi sprinkled with some Bengali. “aami apnader jamai-babu (meaning I am your son-in-law),” he said as the crowd screamed in acceptance. Bachchan is married to Bengali actor Jaya Bhaduri, The superstar’s last line was the clincher though.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee felicitates Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan as former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar (right), Wasim Akram (left) and Imran Khan look on prior to the World T20 match between India and Pakistan at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Saturday. Pics/PTI
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee felicitates Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan as former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar (right), Wasim Akram (left) and Imran Khan look on prior to the World T20 match between India and Pakistan at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Saturday. Pics/PTI

“I hope peace prevails in both India and Pakistan,” he signed off.

CM Mamata thanks ‘ICCI’
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, the premier dignitary at Saturday’s pre-match felicitation function for former Indian and Pakistani cricketers at the Eden Gardens yesterday rechristened the governing body of cricket. During her speech, the chief minister erroneously referred to the ICC (International Cricket Council) as ICCI. The faux pas was not missed on the smart Bengali public, who immediately reacted with loud, yet brief cheer.

Indian fans at the big Indo-Pak clash in Kolkata on Saturday
Indian fans at the big Indo-Pak clash in Kolkata on Saturday

Imran Khan yorks ’em
Former Pakistan skipper Imran Khan, a special invitee by CAB chief Sourav Ganguly for Saturday’s pre-match felicitation function received a loud and warm welcome from the crowd here as soon as he was introduced on the ground as the ‘Lion from Lahore.’ The all-rounder graciously thanked the Kolkata government and fans for their hospitality. Moments later, he served a parting shot that had the crowd in splits. He said: “I hope the result of this match today is the same as when I played here at the Eden Gardens for the last time.” The crowd cheered in probable recollection that Imran had led Pakistan to a four-wicket win in the Nehru Cup final against West Indies on November 1, 1989. Earlier, in the same tournament, Imran and Co had beaten Krish Srikanth’s India by 77 runs on October 29.

Dada escorts Sachin
India cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar was impeccable with his timing with the bat in his playing days. But on Saturday, he got his schedule wrong, when he arrived late for the pre-match felicitation function. Sourav Ganguly escorted him onto the ground to the waiting dignitaries right in between the function which had already begun. The Kolkata crowd though didn’t mind his late-coming as long as he made it anyway. “Saa-chin Saa-chin” yelled a jam-packed Eden crowd all over again!

Ticket prices fluctuate with the rains
The fluctuation of the stock exchange would have wilted in comparison to the prices of tickets available in black outside the Eden Gardens for Saturday’s high octane India vs Pakistan World T20 clash. A day before the match, the cheapest upper tier ticket priced at Rs 500 was being sold for anything between R6,000 and R12,000 in shady nooks and corners outside the epic ground. However, with the threat of rain yesterday, around 5pm, the ticket prices began falling. A couple of men were negotiating close to Gate No 3 with some desperate fans, asking for Rs 3,000 each for two R500 tickets. However, a couple of hours later, as the rain began to reduce, the ticket prices shot up again. Another tout began asking Rs 5,000 for a R500 ticket. For the cricket-crazy fans though, it was still a bargain. “I wish I had come an hour earlier to buy this ticket as I would have got a better deal. But I got delayed getting here because of the rain. Anyway, R5,000 for an India-Pakistan World Cup ticket at the last minute is not a bad deal,” said an Indian fan, clutching on to his prized possession.

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