World Cup Diary: Eden plans to celebrate Kohli’s birthday on Sunday
Indian team management continue to sweat over Hardik Pandya’s fitness
The hype over the India-South Africa league game at the Eden Gardens on Sunday is already skyhigh - while adding to the home fans’ joie de vivre will be that 5 November is also the 35th birthday of Virat Kohli. An occasion, which the host association Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) plans to celebrate in style.
Speaking to sports channel RevSportz, CAB president Snehasish Ganguly said a specially designed cake is on the way which may be cut at the innings break. They are also going to distribute around 70,000 masks bearing Kohli’s face to the fans which will lend to a celebratory ambience.
‘’We have ordered a cake for Virat and the design will be something everyone identified with Virat Kohli. I am not sharing the pictures yet, for let that be a surprise,’’ he was quoted as saying.
‘’We also plan to host a fireworks for Kohli and the crowd. It will be our way of celebrating his birthday,’’ he said, though informed sources say that any such celebration has to be subject to clearance from International Cricket Council (ICC) as the World Cup is their property.
The way the World Cup league table is poised at the moment, Sunday’s game at the Eden can determine the table toppers. It will also be the only match for the Men in Blue at the Eden as any semi-final line-up featuring India will be played at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai (15 November), barring a India-Pakistan clash - which would then come to Eden. A possibility for the later looks remote with Pakistan having slipped to seventh spot after Afghanistan’s second win on the trot on Monday night.
Meanwhile, the Indian team continues to ride the crest of a winning run, making it six out of six against champions England in Lucknow on Sunday. Rohit Sharma & Co have travelled to Mumbai as their next pit stop, where they take on an underwhelming Sri Lanka on Thursday.
While everything has been going as per plan for the hosts, the only area of concern is that they are sweating over the fitness of their prime allrounder Hardik Pandya. He had been going through rehab at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru and even as speculation continues over return, the reported Grade 1 ligament tear that he has undergone in his ankle is supposed to take at least two weeks to heal.
‘’The medical team is looking at that and are very much in touch with Hardik and the NCA [National Cricket Academy] as well,’’ India’s bowling coach Paras Mhambrey said after their win over England. ‘’We’re hoping to get an update in a couple of days. But we’ll see.’’
Incidentally, Pandya had injured himself while trying to field off his own bowling against Bangladesh in Pune on 19 October. Now that India have one foot in the semi-finals, the team management is unlikely to rush him into action at either of the two league matches coming up this week.