The World Cup finally comes home!

Team India returns to rousing welcome – meets PM Modi then flies to Mumbai for Bus Parade & Felicitation

The World Cup finally comes home!

It has taken 17 years for that star count to double in the Indian team’s Blue jersey after India’s valiant seven-run win against South Africa in Saturday’s T20 World Cup final in Barbados, and the newly-crowned World Champions proudly flaunted the specially-designed kit with CHAMPIONS written in bold letters during their breakfast meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, shortly after landing in the national capital at around 6 am IST on Thursday morning.

Hundreds of supporters, holding placards congratulating their favourites and waving the national flag, braved the inclement weather to welcome the Rohit Sharma-led triumphant outfit that touched down in New Delhi with the trophy following a marathon trip home from the Caribbean as the squad members, support staff and families were grounded by Hurricane Beryl, at that stage a category four hurricane that passed through Barbados, with Grantley Adams International Airport in Bridgetown shut for three days.

The Air India special charter flight AIC24WC — Air India Champions 24 World Cup — which left Barbados around 4:50 am local time on Wednesday arrived in Delhi at 6 am (IST) on Thursday after a 16-hour non-stop journey. The special flight organised by BCCI secretary Jay Shah, one of the several board officials to eventually take off from the Bridgetown airport, also carried members of the media contingent from the tournament.


The Indian players came out of the airport in ones and twos after completing immigration formalities. Anticipating a grand welcome despite the arduous 16-hour journey, Suryakumar Yadav, who took the sensational match-winning catch of David Miller in the final, was all animated in responding to the cheering.

Rishabh Pant, who returned to international cricket at the just-concluded event after a near-fatal car accident, saluted the gathered crowd, while pacer Mohammed Siraj blew flying kisses in their direction. Captain Rohit Sharma and Player of the Final, Virat 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.

Grand welcome for Team India

The streets leading to the Indira Gandhi International Airport were cordoned off on one side to ensure smooth passage to the victorious outfit, 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.

The team along with their families and the support staff arrived in two buses at the ITC Maurya Sheraton, where they were greeted by dhol and traditional Bhangra dancers. Most of the Indian players, including Rohit, all-rounder Hardik Pandya, Suryakumar and Pant, shook a leg with the assembled dancers, even as some of the on-duty security personnel, hotel staff couldn’t stop themselves from seeking selfies from a few cricketers, who also obliged generously.

A 3-tier cake infused with the colours of the Indian jersey was prepared at the hotel. The cake was cut by Rohit, Virat, and head coach Rahul Dravid before they left to meet PM Narendra Modi.

According to one of the chefs, different kinds of homemade truffles, assorted chocolate-coated nuts, and a variety of savory treats, including edible chocolate balls, bats, wickets and pitches were also prepared for the Indian team.

After a couple of hours at the hotel, the team members left to meet PM Modi at his official residence 7 Lok Kalyan Marg, continuing a hectic schedule that awaited them through the day. They spent close to two hours interacting with the Prime Minister, who congratulated them for their stunning victory and later hosted them for breakfast.

“An excellent meeting with our Champions! Hosted the World Cup winning team at 7, LKM and had a memorable conversation on their experiences through the tournament,” PM Modi posted on his social media handle.

After the meeting, the players left for the hotel briefly before proceeding to the IGI airport for their next flight to Mumbai, where the winning outfit participated in an open bus victory parade that was followed by a felicitation ceremony at the iconic Wankhede Stadium.

Madness in Mumbai

Team India’s Vistara flight from Delhi to Mumbai was accorded a ‘water salute’ in celebration of the T20 World Cup victory as it touched down the City of Dreams after a Guard of Honour at the airside, and cars escorted the team aircraft to the airport terminal stand. Once the team alighted from the plane, they walked through the Tricolour draped aerobridge, and all the team-members were greeted with a floral cascade showered on them in the arrival corridor.

A celebratory cake-cutting ceremony followed at the airport terminal even as thousands of excited fans lined up on the 1 km picturesque Marine Drive route from Nariman Point to Wankhede Stadium near Churchgate in anticipation of the team’s arrival for the Victory Parade planned on the route.

In a repeat of the road show held in the city 17 years ago when Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team had beaten arch-rivals Pakistan in the final of the inaugural 2007 World T20 in South Africa, Rohit Sharma’s world champion outfit on Thursday was also celebrated by a similar victory parade from Marine Drive to the Wankhede Stadium in an open bus.

Crowds at Churchgate and other railway stations began to swell in the afternoon as fans started gathering at south Mumbai to catch a glimpse of the World Cup heroes. The bus also has a picture of the elated Indian team after they won the T20 World Cup trophy in the West Indies.

The Wankhede Stadium was thrown open to fans, who filled up the stands within minutes to celebrate the Indian team’s title triumph last Saturday. The iconic stadium which witnessed India’s last ODI World Cup triumph in 2011 had its stands filled to the brim by passionate fans as thousand others waited outside the gates which were closed around 5:00pm. The heavy shower in Mumbai could hardly deter the enthusiasm of the crowd.

Chants of ‘Mumbai cha raja Rohit Sharma’ were heard across the stadium welcoming the 37-year-old Rohit, a local boy and a crowd favourite in the city.

Signalling his grand return to Mumbai, Hardik Pandya, the India vice-captain and also the captain of the city’s IPL franchise, emerged from the airport with the World Cup trophy in his hands. The crowd erupted in joy as the players began their parade on the streets of Mumbai.

Flanked by BCCI secretary Jay Shah, president Roger Binny, treasurer Ashish Shelar, vice president Rajeev Shukla, Team India players took turns to hold the trophy and wave the Tricolour. Fans were seen taking pictures of the champions on the bus with some enthusiasts even climbing on trees to get a closer look of the heroes.

The decibel levels rose once Rohit and Virat raised the World Cup trophy together from the open bus. Both the senior pros along with Ravindra Jadeja announced their retirement from the shortest format after the tournament. Unlike his usual self, head coach Rahul Dravid was also at his animated best, acknowledging the love and support from the crowd.

And once the bus reached the Wankhede amid loud cheers from the jam-packed crowd, the players walked into the ground, with Rohit dragging Kohli towards the stands as the duo pulled off some bhangra steps and the rest of the team joined in.

“Since the time we have come to India it’s been wonderful. This trophy means a lot to us (players) but it’s for the entire nation. It was a wonderful experience to meet PM Modi with the team. On behalf of the team, fans, I want to thank the entire nation. This is a special team, I am so lucky to lead this team,” Rohit said at the Wankhede.

Calling the team his family, outgoing head coach Rahul Dravid said, “This team is like a family. Incredible what the boys have done. They showed a ‘Never Say Die’ attitude. Fantastically led by Rohit Sharma.”

Kohli thanked the fans for the incredible support throughout his career as he recalled the emotional moment when he and Rohit, draped in the Tricolor celebrated India’s win together. “A big thank you to all the fans. It has been something that I will never forget. After the game, I knew it was time for me to quit. The only goal is Indian cricket and the Indian flag.”

The event culminated with the BCCI office-bearers presenting the team with a cheque of Rs 125 crores as board secretary had earlier promised after the World Cup triumph.