Football fever had taken a new turn in the city. Suddenly cricket was borrowing stars from a football team to add to the sheen of its celebrations. As Joffre, Borja and Josemi waved at the fans from the VIP box of Eden Gardens suddenly it felt like a gotrantar for the game hitherto treated as the pulp of the mango people. ISL had given Indian football its bragging rights.
Rohit Sharma hit 264 to keep cricket’s intoxication untainted, but football basked in its new found status 24 years after it had been shifted off to the the eastern fringes of the city.
Suddenly the guest list in a football match had the most sought after faces from the city and outside. Sometimes its the tinsel town from Tollywood that descended upon the stadium and sometimes the VIP gallery looked like an extended board room for the corporate hotshots.
But the game between Chennaiyan FC and Atletico de Kolkata saw something extra special. Abhishek Bachchan has recently emerged as one of the most seen sporting faces of Bollywood (albeit may be due to a laid back shooting calender) slapping his thigh for a Thigh5 to sporting a lungi while rooting for the visitors from down South. But the presence of Mr Amitabh Bachchan and Deepika Padukone set the pulse of the 50,000 odd people racing.
As the ripe hues of the winter sun caressed the Western galleries of the Salt Lake Stadium layers of people peeled off the EM Bye Pass and rolled into the giant colloseum. Football was the centrepiece of course, but what added to the spice of the evening of lurking fog was a pride for the game that just was just knighted.