India's T20 World Cup Heroes Return to Heroic Welcome

India's T20 World Cup Heroes Return to Heroic Welcome

Despite the monsoon showers and tight security, exuberant fans gathered to welcome the T20 World Cup-winning Indian cricket team as they returned home to a euphoric reception on Thursday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted a breakfast meet for the champions, who defeated South Africa by seven runs in the final in Bridgetown last week.

Hundreds of supporters, armed with placards and national flags, braved the rain to greet the victorious team outside the airport. The atmosphere was electric, with fans dancing, cutting multiple cakes, and celebrating the sport that unites the nation. The weary players, arriving at the hotel from the airport, joined in the festivities, enhancing the celebratory mood.

"We've waited 13 years for this moment. The team has made us proud," said a dedicated fan who had been waiting since 4:30 AM, referencing India's last World Cup win in 2011.

The team’s return was delayed due to a shutdown caused by Hurricane Beryl in Barbados. They stayed in their hotel until BCCI Secretary Jay Shah arranged a special charter flight. The Air India flight, AIC24WC (Air India Champions 24 World Cup), departed Barbados early Wednesday and landed in Delhi at 6 AM IST on Thursday after a 16-hour non-stop journey.

Heavy security at Indira Gandhi International Airport couldn't dampen the spirits of the cheering fans, who held up posters of stars like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and outgoing head coach Rahul Dravid. Two buses ferried the players to ITC Maurya Sheraton, where they were greeted by traditional Bhangra dancers. Skipper Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, Suryakumar Yadav, and Rishabh Pant joined in the dancing, creating unforgettable memories.

Even security personnel smiled as the players interacted warmly with everyone. After yet another cake-cutting ceremony, the players moved to their rooms briefly before heading to meet Prime Minister Modi at his official residence.

They spent two hours at 7, Lok Kalyan Marg, and then returned to their hotel. At the airport, the players completed immigration formalities and trickled out to wave at fans and flash warm smiles. Suryakumar Yadav, who took the match-winning catch in the final, was especially animated in responding to the cheers. Rishabh Pant, returning to international cricket after a serious car accident, saluted the crowd, while Mohammed Siraj blew kisses. Rohit Sharma and Player of the Final Virat Kohli, both retiring from T20Is, were among the last to exit, with Rohit raising the trophy and Kohli giving a thumbs-up.

Some fans had been waiting outside the airport since the previous night, eager to see their heroes. "It was crucial for us to win this World Cup after losing the ODI World Cup last year," a group of fans said.

The squad's victory marked India's second T20 world title, ending an 11-year wait for an ICC trophy. The players were scheduled to fly to Mumbai at 2 PM for an open bus victory parade and a felicitation ceremony at Wankhede Stadium. This event was particularly special for 37-year-old Rohit Sharma, a fan favorite in his hometown of Mumbai. A similar celebration occurred 17 years ago when Dhoni's team won the inaugural 2007 World T20 against Pakistan in South Africa.

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