As the local train chugged past Marine Lines station, scores of commuters were trying to catch a glimpse of the goings-on inside the Wankhede Stadium.
That, in itself, was enough to suggest that the World Cup bandwagon had well and truly arrived in Mumbai. The scene outside the main gate of the stadium on Saturday, the eve of New Zealand-Canada match, was equally exciting.
It seemed as though every Mumbaikar felt he had the right to enter the renovated venue. But the city police were up to the task and kept everyone at bay, literally.
In fact, ICC pitch consultant Andy Atkinson and a few top-level organisers were, at one point, disallowed entry.
Meanwhile, the Wankhede could witness its first 300-plus score in ODIs. Only the Kiwis were training and Ross Taylor & Co were preparing themselves to make mincemeat of the Canadians.
Each of their batsmen was tonking every second ball in to the stands.
Curator Sudhir Naik has promised that the Wankhede will shed its reputation of dishing out dustbowls. He, however, made it clear that the wicket won’t be a patta (featherbed). “Batsmen who apply themselves will be able to score runs. There is something in it for the bowlers too,” Naik claimed.
New Zealand, who have six points from four matches, will hope to register a straightforward win. Victory will take them to the top of Group A. It will also assure them of a quarterfinal berth.
Taylor, too, wants to keep it simple by winning and not letting net run-rate come in to play. “The net run-rate may play a part, but the focus is to win the next two games, whether chasing or batting first. We don’t want to look at the net run-rate just yet,” he said.
The Kiwis will go into the match without injured captain Daniel Vettori. Except for the thrashing they got from Australia in Nagpur, the Kiwis have looked good.
They registered comprehensive victories over Kenya and Zimbabwe before thrashing the unpredictable Pakistanis.
One among left-arm spinner Luke Woodcock and fast bowler Hamish Bennett will replace Vettori.
“We still haven’t decided on the side. We would see how the wicket is tomorrow (Sunday),” Taylor clarified.
Taylor dismissed all doubts over availability of Brendon McCullum. “Brendon is fine; he’s trying to take as much time on his knee. He had a good long hit at the nets. He will be 100 per cent fit tomorrow (Sunday),” Taylor said.
On the other hand, Canada haven’t had an impressive tournament so far. Except for their win against Kenya in New Delhi, their overall performance has only justified the ICC’s decision to leave the minnows out of the 2015 World Cup.
Captain Ashish Bagai was in no mood to give up, though. “Overall, we are confident going into the match,” he concluded.