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World Cup Tour Diary

Diary: After 40 years, it's mother's day at Eden Gardens

Our correspondent-on-vacation takes his mother to the cricket, and comes back with some memories to cherish

Himanshu Agrawal
World Cup semi-final. Eden Gardens. It was always going to be a special occasion. For my mother, too, it was very special. She was, after all, going to watch a game at Eden Gardens after 40 years!
It wasn't easy to get her there. Forty years, of putting her love for cricket aside and bringing up the family, are a long time. She also whispered to me once that no-one had made so much of an effort to take her to the stadium in all these years. It really wasn't much of an effort - getting tickets was easy, surprisingly so, though I had to keep refreshing the BookMyShow page every 15 minutes before I got hold of them.
It was quite grey and gloomy as we made our way from one corner of Kolkata to another but the fears about the possible cyclone hadn't kept people away. A lot of people might have bought tickets in the hope that India would play their semi-final game at Eden, but they turned up nevertheless.
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Afghanistan's Tendulkar intervention

The former India World Cup winner spent time in the Afghan camp at Wankhede ahead of their match against Australia

Vishal Dikshit
Vishal Dikshit
Playing only their third ODI World Cup and their best by a distance, Afghanistan have been thankful to Indians for the hospitality they have received in the last month. Their captain Hashmatullah Shahidi on Monday thanked the Indian crowd for supporting them in all their games so far, for the respect they showed in recognising them off the field, and there was the anecdote of a taxi driver not taking any money after a ride because he was taking the Afghanistan captain around.
That hospitality touched the sky on Monday when the Afghanistan players were paid a visit by local boy and World Cup winner Sachin Tendulkar during their training session in the evening.
Unlike many celebrities in Mumbai, Tendulkar arrived right on time when the Afghanistan nets session was just about to begin, he gave a memento to Mohammad Nabi and appeared to give a pep talk in a huddle surrounded by the entire squad, support staff and even some groundstaff.
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Tendulkar's lofted drive immortalised at the Wankhede

Almost exactly a decade after his farewell game here, the stadium honoured its favourite son with a statue

Yash Jha
It was here, almost exactly a decade ago, that Sachin Tendulkar called time on arguably the most storied career in this sport. In the years since, the master has had a stand at the stadium named after him. Now, in the year he turned 50, the only man with a hundred hundreds in international cricket has a statue of his own at his home turf.
The giant sculpture, placed high and mighty in the gap between the Sachin Tendulkar Stand and the Vijay Merchant Pavilion, has been designed by Pramod Kamble and depicts him playing a lofted stroke straight down the ground - not too dissimilar to those hits that had them all dancing in the aisles in Sharjah 25 years ago.
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The unsung heroes behind India's spectacular stadium atmosphere

While some labour alongside families, others embark on epic journeys to fuel the fervor of the World Cup

Daya Sagar
Daya Sagar
Meet Swadesh Shekhar Haldar, a 46-year-old resident of Dum Dum area in Kolkata, on his second World Cup journey. Back in 2011, the last time when the tournament was held in the Indian subcontinent, Haldar had visited every city in India which hosted their matches. He isn't a massive fan of the game, and has never witnessed any action from inside a stadium; but he's the man behind the vibrant jerseys, flags, whistles and caps sold just outside, things which make the atmosphere so lively.
Over the past 25 days, Haldar has travelled roughly 6750kms - from Chennai to Lucknow via Delhi. This cricketing journey had began on October 3, and he has been on a national tour ever since. Moreover, before the World Cup final is held in Ahmedabad, he will have added another 3000kms to his journey.
Haldar had commenced his World Cup preparations three months in advance, reserving railway tickets for each city where India were scheduled to play. Hence, so far he has been to Chennai, Ahmedabad, Pune, and Lucknow; next in line are Kolkata, Mumbai and Bengaluru. Should India advance to the semi-final and the final, Haldar is all set to retrace his steps to Mumbai and Ahmedabad, for which he has already made reservations.
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Kolkata coloured in Bangladeshi green

Thousands of Bangladeshi fans have arrived in Kolkata to watch their team play in the World Cup

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Marquis Street was a river of green jerseys as Bangladeshi fans flocked to Kolkata ahead of their two World Cup games, against Netherlands and Pakistan, in the city. They walked in groups - families, friends, and fan associations - rolling their suitcases, gathering in restaurants, and crowding around mobile stores.
Walking through Marquis Street to the adjacent Mirza Ghalib Street, to Sudder Street, on to the New Market area, and all the way to Park Street, the scene was pretty similar. Thousands of Bangladeshis, and so easy to spot because a lot of them wore different versions of their team's jersey.
A group from Araihazar, Narayanganj, indulged in traditional Bengali sweets. A newly-wed couple had just arrived, though they are not counting this as their honeymoon. There were several cricket club officials milling around too.
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Cricket, climate and carbon footprint

The air quality in Delhi and Mumbai was far from ideal. But is cricket serious about its role in tackling the climate crisis?

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
I arrived in Bengaluru on Sunday and feel like I can breathe again. I had spent five days in Delhi, then six in Mumbai, and the combination of lower temperatures and better air quality over the last 48 hours has been so refreshing: Bengaluru is cool enough to walk around without breaking a sweat within five minutes, and I have been grateful for some fresher air.
My phone's weather app shows me the Air Quality Index (AQI) measurement of whichever city I am in, and in Delhi, it seemed to hover around 300-320. I spent five weeks in Mumbai earlier in the year and hardly noticed the air quality, but was struck by how poor the visibility was when driving to and from the airport in particular and the AQI was pushing 300 every time I checked.
According to a report in the Indian Express, spending a day outside in Mumbai with air quality levels as they are is about as bad for you as smoking five or six cigarettes in a day. At the time of writing in Bengaluru, it is down at 103, which the app describes as "moderately polluted". For comparison's sake, back home in London, the AQI is around 30.
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Learning about the Mahatma

Our Bangladesh correspondent visits a museum dedicated to Gandhi, in the building where he once lived and worked in Mumbai

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Visiting Mumbai for the World Cup has a touch of magic about it. It is a city steeped in socio-political, cultural and, of course, cricketing history, making it an enticing melting pot for me.
The day after I arrive in Mumbai, my friend and former colleague Abhishek Purohit suggests a visit to Mani Bhavan, which is a museum dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi. He lived in this very building for 17 years, starting from 1917. I'm very much up for this, so, after a cup of tea at the Stadium Restaurant opposite the Brabourne Stadium, we take a train from Churchgate. On my previous Mumbai visit, we took a train from CST to Ghatkopar one weekday evening. Just for kicks. The crowded train proved to be a physical challenge, but this time, Abhishek assures me, it is going to be mostly empty. We hop off at Grant Road, and walk to the museum in ten minutes.
At first look, Mani Bhavan can pass off as any of the legacy buildings in Mumbai. It is a city that has plenty of restored buildings, including gothic structures and art-deco buildings. We walk through the small reception area and into a big library. We pass a bust of the Mahatma and go upstairs to a gallery that has photos going all the way back to his childhood. I stop to study press clippings from the time of his assassination.
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Southee, Boult & Co light up Sunday afternoon for schoolkids in Chennai

Mitchell, Ravindra and Chapman join in as youngsters get to train and interact with the superstars

Deivarayan Muthu
New Zealand's stars put smiles on the faces of about 50 school kids from UNICEF programmes by playing with them on a muggy Sunday afternoon at Chepauk. Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Mark Chapman, Daryl Mitchell and Rachin Ravindra were among those who trained the kids and interacted with them. PC Prakash, the former Tamil Nadu batter who is currently in charge of the TNCA academy, kept a close watch on the proceedings.
It was a special day for S Mridula, though her No. 1 sport is football rather than cricket. "It was a great experience to share the field with international players during a World Cup at Chepauk," she said. "I've been going for football coaching for five months. My favourite football players are [Lionel] Messi and Neymar, and I don't watch much cricket, but it's nice to be here. In cricket my favourite is [MS] Dhoni, who plays here in Chennai."
For Chapman, the day brought back fond memories of how he fell in love with cricket as a kid.
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