Mohali mania: For the jet set, it's all play & little work

Last Updated: Mon, Mar 28, 2011 20:10 hrs

Analjit Singh, founder and chairman of the Max India group, will be travelling with the groupᅵs entire board to Chandigarh for a business meeting on Tuesday. Reason: This will make it easier for the boardᅵs 13 members to drive down to Mohali the next day to watch the mother of all cricket battles ᅵ India versus Pakistan.

As cricket fever grips the country, Singh and his counterparts in India Inc are going all out to make sure that the world cup semi-final match in Mohali, near Chandigarh, remains a jet-set affair.

So, JSW Group Vice-Chairman and Managing Director Sajjan Jindal will be cheering for the men in blue with his family from the VIP box seats of the PCA (Punjab Cricket Association) stadium.

Life is always kingsize for Vijay Mallya, Indiaᅵs most flamboyant business satrap. So, if it was a business meeting in Male on Saturday, Sunday was booked for the Australian F1 race. Mallya, for whom sports is clearly an extension of his business strategy, plans to fly down for the match with family and other members of his glam entourage.

"Yes, a bunch of Pepsico folks will be at Mohali," came the Blackberry message from the companyᅵs marketing director, Deepika Warrier. For them, mixing cricket with cola is part of the job, as Pepsi is the beverage and snack sponsor of the tournament.

And, itᅵs quite obvious that the Munjals of the Hero Group – the official sponsor – will be out there in full force.

Raymond Group chief Gautam Singhania will party all the way with friend and Citibank head honcho Pramit Jhaveri and some of Mumbaiᅵs lux set in his private jet. "We leave at 10 in the morning on Wednesday. I was there in Nagpur and Ahmedabad. No chance I will miss the Mohali match. Itᅵs the mother of all matches," said a euphoric Singhania.

Jhaveriᅵs investment banking comrade and Deutsche Bankᅵs chief country officer, Gunit Chadha, will also make an "in-and-out" whistle-stop tour. But surprisingly, Chadhaᅵs boss and cricket buff, Anshu Jain, is likely to give the match a miss. "The Mohali wicket is fantastic. Itᅵs one of the best stadiums and we are playing Pakistan in India in a World Cup knockout. For a cricket fan like me, it canᅵt get better," quips Chadha.

The richest Indian, Mukesh Ambani, may have already booked three corporate boxes at Mumbaiᅵs Wankhede for the final by spending Rs 5 crore, but he is not taking chances for Wednesdayᅵs match either.

Along with Deepak Parekh and Keki Mistry of HDFC, Mr and Mrs Ambani last week skipped a dinner date with Warren Buffett to watch the India-Australia match at Motera.

In fact, to mediaᅵs collective displeasure, Mistry has been so obsessive about cricket that he has postponed interviews with journalists till the end of the world cup.

Mind you, the above list is hardly exhaustive, for we havenᅵt even mentioned actor Shah Rukh Khan and the growing buzz about Rahul Gandhiᅵs attendance with family and close friends.

But itᅵs not just the average cricket fanatic who is at the receiving end of this celebrity jamboree. Ask Credit Suisse India head Mihir "Mickey" Doshi. He had to send out a travel advisory for his global CEO, Brady W. Dougan, telling him to postpone his India trip, as none of the fat-cat clients would be there to meet him this week. Similar bad news awaited a bunch of Israeli investors in Delhi.

But itᅵs not that all cricket-crazy CEOs will skip work and land up for the match. "My family should be there but I am still not sure as I have some prior commitments." Thatᅵs Fortis Healthcare Chairman Malvinder Singh for you. Yogi Deveshwar of ITC is also unlikely to cancel the board meeting on Wednesday.

The Essar Groupᅵs high-energy CEO and managing director, Prashant Ruia, is flying overseas for a strategic announcement in the UK. His father or uncle Sashi Ruia and Ravi Ruia may, however, use the reserves seats.

Finally, hereᅵs a word of caution from a leading CEO, who said: "Zipping in and out will not be that easy with so many VVIPs around."

Howwzat for a party pooper.

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