The Kotla started filling up from as early as noon, and while the 30,000 strong crowd had to endure a longer than expected wait to catch a glimpse of their heroes, once they did emerge, no-one was complaining.
The victorious Indian team was felicitated and rewarded for its one-day series win over hosts Australia in the capital on Thursday, and though it could have been a much better managed event, Delhiites, it seemed, did not want to let go of the opportunity to welcome the team.
Speaking at the event, Sharad Pawar, the BCCI president, said the team’s triumph in Australia vindicated the Board’s decision to try out new faces.
“The Board’s decision to try out young players proved to
be a good one. Our team got stronger because of this move,” he said.
“Beating Australia in Australia is a great achievement and I want to congratulate the entire team. “It has, so far, been a great year for Indian cricket, and I hope it continues to stay like that,” Pawar said.
Pawar also urged the crowd not to turn on the players after a loss.
“This is a game. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. When these players win, you greet them with enthusiasm. But, when they lose you should back them instead of running them down,” he said.
Arun Jaitley, the DDCA president, said that the function was a fitting way to celebrate the Kotla’s seventy-fifth anniversary.
“The Kotla is a historic ground and it is only appropriate that this historic Indian team is being felicitated here in its seventy-fifth year,” he said.
Cashing on it
The BCCI presented each member of the squad with a cheque of Rs 58 lakhs in appreciation of their efforts on the three-month tour Down Under. Irfan Pathan was the only member of the squad not present. The support staff members were paid 10 lakhs each.
Fielding coach Robin Singh, team physio John Gloster and trainer Greg King were however, not present at the function.
Thanking the crowd for their support, India captain MS Dhoni said: “I would like to thank all of you, this is just the kind of motivation we need.”
It was a tough tour and I am proud of my players’ conduct both on and off the field, I want to thank each and every member of my team," Dhoni added.
The skipper also congratulated the India u-19 side and said the youngsters should enjoy the success.
“Enjoy your success, after all, sport has to be enjoyed. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself,” Dhoni said.
DDCA rewards Delhi boys
The three Delhi boys in the senior side — Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Ishant Sharma and the two in the u-19 team — skipper Virat Kohli and Pradeep Sangwan were presented with cheques of Rs 2.5 lakhs by the DDCA.