WC 2003 - Security beefed up in Kolkata ahead of Pakistan match

Published: Saturday, March 1, 2003, 17:18 [IST]
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Kolkata: Security was stepped up around Indian cricket captain Saurav Ganguly's residence on Saturday as millions of Indians offered fervent prayers for victory against arch rival Pakistan in the World Cup clash.The match in South Africa is the first between the warring neighbours since June 2000.India, though beaten by Pakistan several times in the past, was hoping on Saturday to keep unblemished its unbeaten record to Pakistan in World Cup action.Fans in this billion-plus country had reacted violently when India was bowled out for a paltry 125 by World Champions Australia in the second match of the tournament on February 15.But wins against Zimbabwe, Namibia and England have boosted the spirits of the Indian team and fans alike.Kolkata police, however, was not taking any chances, throwing a tight security cordon around Indian skipper Saurav Ganguly's residence ahead of the match."Anything may happen after the match is over," West Bengal police deputy inspector general Narayn Chandra Ghosh said."We have taken all necessary steps to protect Ganguly's family members."Fans pleaded for victory against Pakistan in messages aired on television stations."We have defeated Pakistan before, let's do it again," urged a fan in a message to a Hindi news channel ahead of the Group 'A' fixture."Sachin, crush Shoaib Akhtar," demanded another fan.Such has been the pressure on the Indian team that Ganguly on Friday insisted the match was just another game."Our approach will be the same. Pakistan tends to blow hot one day and cold the other. And we don't want to be caught on the wrong side," he said.India, cushioned by 16 points from five matches, will confirm its place in the Super Sixes if it wins on Saturday.Pakistan, with eight points from four games, needs to win against India and Zimbabwe to stay in contention for a place in the next round.A defeat, or even a no result, will leave Pakistan's fate in the hands of the other Group 'A' teams."Whenever a cricket match between India and Pakistan is held, fans in the city become crazy, emotional," a Kolkata police official said.Copyright AFP 2001

A nation that has got a chance to be out-and-out upbeat

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