Kolkata has discarded the white-blue colours it had come to be identified with, and has adopted pink as its nocturnal hue to welcome India’s maiden day-night Test match with the pink ball against Bangladesh on Friday.
Iconic landmarks in the city such as the legendary Eden Gardens, where the cricketing world has made many records, the war memorial Shahid Minar which is the entry point of the city’s central business district, the Tata Centre which once held the crown of being the tallest building in the city, the residential highrise — The 42, the Big Ben of Kolkata, and several other infrastructural hotspots soaked themselves in pink at night.
Hospitals, signages, shops and practically everything else in the city has a dash of pink, the colour of the cricket ball being used in the Test match. Even West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee donned a pink and white saree at the match’s inaugural ceremony. At the Eden Gardens, cricket board officials and the staff both sported the colour the day the match kicked off. Moreover, a pink ball-shaped blimp has been hovering over the match venue.
Apart from its passion for politics, football and arts, the sweets of Kolkata are one of its biggest attractions and the city’s sweetmeat shops didn’t want to lose out on the pink tempo that has now grappled the city.
“We had sent specially curated pink ball sweets to Dada (Sourav Ganguly) who is our customer. Now the demand is so high that we have started making these sweets for the common people as well; there is a huge demand for it because of this test match,” said Amitava De, owner of the 160-year old Felu Modak sweetmeat shop.
Priced on the higher side and made with strawberry, chocolate, milk, almond and cashew, pink ball sweets have become a favourite in the city now, challenging the legendary Rosogolla which Bengal is so proud of. De expects to sell at least 600 pieces of this sweetmeat variant during the course of the Test match.
Shree Krishna Sweets has also come up with its own variant of the pink ball sweet. The craze for the colour even reached Chennai, with the multiplex Rohini Silver Screens sporting a pink-hued ambience inside its auditorium.
As 50,000 people poured into Eden Gardens to view the spectacle. The police deployed 3,000 personnel to manage the crowd in a housefull environment. While Indian fans painted tri-colour tattoos on their faces and cheerful faces carried the nation’s flag, some Bangladeshi fans who dropped in at the venue sported a painted version of the Royal Bengal tiger.
Following a performance by the Kolkata Police band, West Bengal’s chief minister and Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in presence of BCCI President Sourav Ganguly, BCB President Nazmul Hasan Papon and Sachin Tendulkar and other dignitaries, rang the iconic Eden Bell flagging off the event.
The golden coin was tossed and Bangladesh, the winner, decided to bat.
As social media platforms went abuzz with the much-anticipated test, the Cricket Association of Bengal, Kolkata Police, BCCI and others used the platform to the fullest to market the new format of the game. In effect, it earned praises on the marketing efforts put forward in close coordination.
“This is something which is completely new to the Indian audience and I am sure they will enjoy it and Kolkata is known for these type of events — to make it grand and special,” cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar said after he landed at Kolkata airport to be part of this historic game.
As Tendulkar expected, the pink Test wasn’t all about cricket but wholesome entertainment as well. Sans IPL-styled cheerleaders, music director Jeet Ganguly and Bangladeshi crooner Runa Laila were roped in to keep the excitement up among the viewers.
“I came all the way from Burdwan to see the match. It is not just about cricket. It is a historic occasion and all the big shots of cricket are present here. How can I miss an event like this,” Bapi Dutta, a resident of Burdwan hurriedly said on his way to the venue. Incidentally, with a slight winter chill gripping the city, Dutta was dressed in a pink Nehru jacket.
The state government has also arranged for special bus services to ferry spectators after stumps on the first day of the match at 8’o clock in the night. Twenty-five special buses have been parked in the vicinity to ferry cricket enthusiasts across Kolkata and Howrah till 10 pm.