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Patriotic fervour peaks hours before match

Wednesday March 30, 2011 02:33:37 PM, IANS

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Mohali: Patriotic fervour was at its peak in and around the stadium as cricket enthusiasts marched around with the Indian standard, painters made a fast buck by painting the national tricolour on faces and vendors sold flags of all sizes hours before the India-Pakistan clash.

 

The gates of the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium formally opened at 10 a.m. Wednesday and the atmosphere seemed electric for the World Cup semifinal. The match begins at 2.30 p.m.

Hundreds of cricket fans started pouring in and queuing up for entry into the stadium. The place wore a festive look despite unprecedented security turning it into a virtual fortress.

"Even though we know that these guys are over-charging for painting the flag on our cheeks for Rs.500 per person, we don't mind it. After all, it is for India," businessman Yoginder Bhatia told IANS as he waited for the gates to open.

Bhatia and his friends and relatives reached the venue just before 9 a.m. - a full five and a half hours before the match starts.

Some of the diehard fans, who did not want to take any chances, reached the stadium around 7 a.m.

"We arrived here at 7 a.m. and found some people already here. We don't mind spending hours here as long as we get in and have a good game," cricket enthusiast Gaurav Singh said.

While tri-colour vendors were selling them for prices ranging from Rs.500 to Rs.2,500, depending on the size, the painters near the stadium were charging Rs.500 to paint the tri-colour on the face.

"This is a mela (festival) kind of atmosphere. I really love it," university student Jasmine Walia said.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her son and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, daughter Priyanka Gandhi and son-in-law Robert Vadra will watch the match amid unprecedented security cover.
 

 

 

 

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