England did it after winning the Ashes a couple of years ago. Australia did it after winning the World Cup early this year. India did it on Wednesday. The newly-crowned Twenty20 world champions got on an open-top bus and rode through the city, flaunting the trophy and soaking in the rain and admiration.
Thousands occupied every available spot along the 30-km route from the airport to Wankhede Stadium to cheer their heroes.
Politicians were there too, notably Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, his deputy R.R Patil and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Sharad Pawar, who arrived with the team.
<b1>In a blatant display of opportunism, they seated themselves in the front row on the stage erected for cricketers. Dhoni was the only player allowed to take a front row seat. The others had to play second fiddle to ungainly ministers and Board officials. Even Yuvraj Singh couldn't hit them out for a six — assuming that his seat was in the front, he came up, but had to retreat.
Patil spoke in Marathi (a language which most of cricket team does not understand) and praised Pawar's leadership skills to the skies. He also remembered to congratulate Dhoni and his team.
Contrast this with the public’s reception of the team. A huge crowd gathered at the airport, beating drums, pushing and struggling to glimpse Dhoni’s Devils. The cricketers’ motorcade crawled through the streets and took five-and-a-half hours to reach the Wankhede stadium.
Dhoni pulled off a stunner saying: "We had heard that Mumbai is always on the move. Today, my team brought Mumbai to a standstill."
The felicitation function, originally scheduled at 10.30 am, began at around 2 pm. It ended with a victory lap, but no sooner had the players started that mayhem erupted. The crowd brought down the fence and surged into the ground. There was pandemonium as securitymen whisked the players away to safety.
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