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    SportsCricketThey're home India's T20 world champs arrive in Delhi to fan frenzy...

    They’re home India’s T20 world champs arrive in Delhi to fan frenzy meet PM over breakfast


    New Delhi, Jul 4: Exuberant fans lined up to express support despite monsoon showers and heavy security deployment before Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted them for a breakfast meet as India's T20 Cup-winning cricket stars returned to a euphoric reception, here on Thursday.

    Hundreds of supporters, holding placards congratulating their favourites and waving the flag, braved the inclement 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 energy rubbed off on the weary players, who 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 — 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 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, this time in the shape of the trophy they had brought back.
    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.
    Accompanied by BCCI President Roger Binny and secretary Jay Shah, the squad, including outgoing head coach Rahul Dravid, spent close to two hours at the 7, Lok Kalyan Marg residence of the Prime Minister before heading back to the hotel.
    In a video later shared by the Prime Minister's Office, the players could be seen having light-hearted conversations with Modi.
    “What a great honour, meeting our honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji. Thank you sir for inviting us to the Prime Minister's residence,” Kohli posted on Instagram with a picture of him with the PM.

    Earlier, at the airport, the tired but excited players 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 players are now headed to Mumbai 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. (Agencies)

    The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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