New Delhi, January 21
In cities, towns and villages across India, the national cricket team players, having made history in Australia, were given a hero’s welcome as they returned to the country. Some of them got back home after nearly five months away, having left for Dubai in August to play in the IPL, then flown directly from there to Australia.
In Mumbai, chants of “Aala re aala Ajinkya aala” — “Here comes our Ajinkya!” — welcomed Ajinkya Rahane at the residential complex he lives in in suburban Matunga, amid the beating of the traditional dhol and showering of flower petals on him.
In Hyderabad, the mood was sombre as Mohammed Siraj headed straight to the grave of his father, who died when the young cricketer was in Australia.
In his native village Chinnappampatti in Tamil Nadu, Thangarasu Natarajan — who made his international debut in all three formats of the game in Australia — was given a great welcome, complete with garlands and a chariot ride through the streets.
Besides stand-in captain Rahane, also arriving in Mumbai were coach Ravi Shastri, star batsman Rohit Sharma, pacer Shardul Thakur and opener Prithvi Shaw. Brisbane Test hero Rishabh Pant landed in New Delhi early this morning.
The Chennai contingent, including Ravichandran Ashwin, Washington Sundar and bowling coach Bharat Arun, are currently in Dubai and are expected to reach the country early morning on Friday. — TNS, agencies