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News flash: The Indian and Pakistani cricketers are not having bun-fights over breakfast. The world inside their world is normal. They are getting harassed for tickets though, with one Indian cricketer stating that the only tickets he could provide was bus tickets to Mohali. The world just outside Mohali actually is normal too. A short distance away from the stadium which will host the India v Pakistan semi-final, workers spend their mornings breaking bricks. It is a large pile but they should be done by Wednesday.
Yet, it is not normal, not merely because one bunch of guys in blue will play another bunch of guys in green. The cricketers have suddenly become the bit-part actors in the drama. The two states and their prime ministers have struck. The Indian invited and the Pakistani accepted which now leaves the local hosts worrying about more than whether their sofas and carpets are spruced up and smelling of roses. Hosting prime ministers is one thing, but where the devil can the 50-strong 'entourages' that will accompany each of them, be fitted in? Surely their Honourable-nesses could have watched the game on some giant LED television?
It is a very big match, in a very small stadium and security staff are now on something approaching perpetual alert. With all apologies to the headline-makers, this is not the "mother of all battles", but the grandmother of all headaches.
After Misbah-ul-Haq finished his media conference, 17 uniformed officers of the Punjab Police and no doubt extensions of all civic security teams, and bureaucrats in civvies, met in the same room around a U-shaped table. They spoke in Punjabi, the speech therefore lost on eavesdroppers typing a few feet away from them, but the words that did hang in the air concerned mostly worse-case scenarios: "code word", "bottle-throwing", "traffic", "sabotage", "stampede". An hour or so later, a black Labrador called Rosie came sniffing around for explosives.
And we believe that M S Dhoni and Shahid Afridi are under pressure.
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