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T20 World Champions Team India meet PM Modi over breakfast

The squad won the country its second T20 world title, ending an 11-year wait for an ICC trophy, on Saturday.
Last Updated : 04 July 2024, 10:08 IST

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New Delhi: Exuberant fans followed them despite monsoon showers and heavy security deployment before Prime Minister Narendra Modi rolled out the red carpet for a breakfast meet as the T20 World Cup-winning Indian cricketers returned home to a euphoric reception, here on Thursday.

Hundreds of supporters, holding placards congratulating their favourites and waving the national flag, braved the inclement weather to wait outside the airport for the victorious side, which defeated South Africa by seven runs in the final in Bridgetown on Saturday last week.

There was dancing, there were multiple cakes, and there were fans on streets showing just why cricket is the most passionately followed sport in the country. The weary players joined in the fun after arriving at the hotel from airport to complete the party atmosphere.

"We have waited for this moment for the past 13 years. The team has made us proud by winning the World Cup," a fan, who claimed to have been waiting since 4:30am in the morning said, referring to India's last World Cup triumph which came back in 2011.

The side was unable to head back home immediately after the title win due to a shutdown forced by hurricane Beryl in Barbados. They were cocooned in their hotel before the BCCI secretary Jay Shah made arrangements for a special charter flight.

The Air India special charter flight AIC24WC -- Air India Champions 24 World Cup -- which left Barbados around 4:50am local time on Wednesday arrived in Delhi at 6am (IST) on Thursday after a 16-hour non-stop journey.

Heavy security was deployed to keep the crowd in check at the Indira Gandhi International airport but that did little to dampen the spirits as fans cheered enthusiastically holding up posters of star batter Virat Kohli, skipper Rohit Sharma and outgoing head coach Rahul Dravid.

Two buses were stationed outside the T3 Terminal to ferry the players to ITC Maurya Sheraton, where they were greeted by dhol and traditional Bhangra dancers.

Most of them, including skipper Rohit Sharma, all-rounder Hardik Pandya, Suryakumar Yadav and Rishabh Pant, shook a leg with the assembled dancers, giving them a memory that would last a lifetime.

Even the on-duty security personnel had smiles on their faces as the players let their hair down after the long journey, shook hands with everyone who wanted to and moved into their rooms after cutting yet another cake that was kept ready for them.

All of this unfolded amid expected media frenzy. A brief while later, they left to meet Modi at his official residence, continuing a hectic schedule that awaits them through the day.

They spent close to two hours at the 7, Lok Kalyan Marg residence of the Prime Minister before heading back to the hotel.

Earlier, at the airport, the players trickled out in ones and twos after completing immigration formalities.

Tired but excited, they acknowledged the waiting fans by waving at them and flashing warm smiles.

Suryakumar, who took the sensational match-winning catch of David Miller in the final, was the most animated in responding to the cheering.

Pant, who returned to international cricket at the just-concluded event after a life-threatening car accident, saluted the gathered crowd, while pacer Mohammed Siraj blew flying kisses in their direction.

Rohit and Player of the Final Kohli, both of whom retired from T20Is at the end of India's campaign, were among the last to come out of the VIP exit.

Rohit raised the coveted trophy for the fans to catch a glimpse before boarding the bus. Kohli, on his part, gave a thumbs up to acknowledge the support.

In their excitement to see their heroes in person, some fans claimed that they had been waiting outside the airport since last night.

"We have been here since last night. It was very important for us to win this World Cup after losing the ODI World Cup last year," a group of fans said.

The squad won the country its second T20 world title, ending an 11-year wait for an ICC trophy, on Saturday.

The players will fly to Mumbai at 2pm to participate in an open bus victory parade starting at 5pm followed by a felicitation ceremony at the Wankhede Stadium.

It would be a special moment for the 37-year-old Rohit, who is a Mumbaikar and a huge fan favourite in the city.

A similar road show was held in Mumbai 17 years ago when Dhoni's team had beaten arch-rivals Pakistan in the final of the inaugural 2007 World T20 in South Africa.

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Published 04 July 2024, 10:08 IST

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