New Delhi: India
cricketers Monday got a rapturous welcome as they returned to their
hometowns even as cash prizes continue to flow in following their
World Cup triumph.
Even as the country debates on whether the original Wold Cup trophy
was handed over to champions India Saturday night at the Wankhede,
though International Cricket Council (ICC) admitted they did, fans
cared less about this and turned out it large numbers to cheer for
the heroes on their return.
Delhi boy Gautam Gambhir, who scored a fabulous 97 in the final,
returned home to a rapturous welcome by fans waving national flags.
"It was the most important knock till now, but my best is yet to
come," said Gambhir to the waiting mediapersons.
Crowds shouted "Gautam Gambhir zindabad" (long live Gautam Gambhir)
as the city's cricketing hero reached his home in Rajendra Nagar in
Admirers of all ages, including residents, shopkeepers and students
from nearby government teacher's training school, crowded in front
of the house for a glimpse of Gambhir.
Gambhir did not disappoint his fans. He came to the balcony and
waived to the crowd.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his wife Sakshi also landed
in Delhi to attend a friend's party. Officials at the Delhi airport
had a tough time in handling the jubilant fans, who all wanted to
have a picture with the Dhonis.
Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh also got a grand welcome after on
arriving in Chandigarh. Harbhajan, who stays in the upscale Sector
9, paid obeisance at a gurudwara in the neighbouring town of Sohana,
before leaving for his home town of Jalandhar, some 150 km from
here, to meet his mother Avtar Kaur.
He is also expected to visit Sant Ajit Singh, the head of Nirmal
dera, based in Hansali village Fatehgarh Sahib town of Punjab, in
the coming days. Ajit Singh is also the guru of Harbhajan's team
mate Yuvraj Singh.
Suresh Raina also followed the divine route before returning to his
home town of Mohan Nagar in Ghaziabad.
Raina, who played crucial knocks in the quarterfinal and the
semifinal, offered prayers at the Shridi shrine as the Uttar Pradesh
government announced a cash award of Rs.10 lakh each to Raina and
Piyush Chawla, the two players from the state in the winning squad.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati in a message sent to both the
players said: "You have done UP (Uttar Pradesh) proud."
Minister of Civil Aviation Vayalar Ravi also announced that four Air
India would promote four members of the winning squad.
"M.S. Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina will
soon get a promotion for being part of the winning Indian team. They
are already officers and it is a normal practice (to give them
promotion)," Ravi said.
The Punjab government also announced cash rewards for Yuvraj and
Harbhajan, while Gujarat government said that Munaf Patel and Yusuf
Pathan will be conferred with the highest sports award, "Eklavya
Puruskar." The award comprises Rs. 1 lakh, a memento and a
certificate of honour.