Mohali wakes up to cricket buzz
The otherwise sleepy town of Mohali woke up on Wednesday morning buzzing with excitement as the countdown to the World Cup semi-final featuring arch-rivals India and Pakistan entered its final hours.
Police vans and beaconed vehicles patrolled the roads which were still glistening from Tuesday night's sporadic drizzle but nothing could not dampen the spirits of the residents in the tiny north Indian town thrust under the global spotlight.
Image: Pakistani cricket fans pose for a photographer before crossing the Wagah border on Tueday
Punjab gone under lockdown
The town in the state of Punjab has virtually gone under a lockdown and no one was complaining.
"People here would make sure it's a holiday," Amarjeet Singh, a cab driver, told Reuters.
"With so many detours (because of road closures), who would want to take out the car? Besides, giant screens have been installed at sector 17, sector 35 and some other places. Either people will watch the match at home or throng those areas."
The high-profile match at the 28,000-seater Punjab Cricket Association Stadium has drawn, among others, prime ministers of both the countries, numerous politicians, industrialists and celebrities.
Image: Policemen keep watch in front of a poster featuring India's Sachin Tendulkar in Mohali on Tuesday
Unprecedented security blanket in and around the stadium
Rampant black-marketing has been reported and eight people have been arrested so far ahead of the match that assumes even more importance because of what the local media construed India's 'cricket diplomacy'.
An unprecedented security blanket has been thrown in and around the stadium with state and central security agencies joining hands to make sure the match, featuring two nuclear-armed neighbours suspicious of each other, passes without any untoward incident.
Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal is monitoring the security arrangements and advised the fans to enter the stadium at least three to four hours before the match starts to avoid getting stuck.
Image: Indian security forces and their dogs are checked as they turn up to work at the Punjab Cricket Association Ground on Tuesday
Photographs: Getty Images
Huge influx of tourists
The huge influx of tourists have caught the twin cities of Chandigarh and Mohali by surprise and accommodating the fans, a sizeable number from Pakistan, has become a huge issue with the city authorities.
Hoteliers sniffed a perfect opportunity to do some brisk business and some have even tripled their tariffs after accepting bookings at lower rates.
Image: Pakistan fans arrive in India through the India-Pakistan joint check post at the Wagah border