Proud India drenched in WC euphoria, windfall for players

Updated: Apr 03, 2011, 14:09 PM IST

Mumbai/New Delhi: Drenched in euphoria over the historic Cricket World Cup victory, India knew no bounds in celebrating the triumph of its Men in Blue as the joyous country showered them with praises and awards.

At 10.49 last night, the country erupted into unprecedented celebrations after Mahendra Singh Dhoni`s team won against Sri Lanka in the nail-biting title clash.

As Captain Dhoni made amends for his poor form hitting the winning runs off Nuwan Kulasekara with a six, it was a dream come true for the Indian team, who had worked hard to achieve the feat, and the country that waited for 28 years for the Cup to return.

Emotional and poignant scenes unfolded at the renovated Mumbai`s Wankhede stadium as the players hugged each other and fireworks lit the night sky with the cricket crazy country breaking into instant festivities.

A normally reserved Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who said the victory of the Indian team "will be etched in gold for generations to come", came out on the streets of Delhi joining thousands of fans in the hour of glory.

A beaming Gandhi popped out of her sports utility vehicle, standing on the seat with one leg on the door and waved the national flag. She shook hands with the fans and displayed Victory and thumbs-up signs, drawing lusty cheers from the crowd around on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg near the busy ITO crossing at around 11 PM.

She told the fans that the Indian cricket team has done the country really proud by winning the Cup. The fans responded to her by chanting "India-India" and "Vande Mataram".

Guarded by Special Protection Group personnel, Gandhi was in the midst of the fans for about 20 minutes before she drove off towards the Delhi Gate.

As she interacted with the celebrating fans, the ITO intersection, one of the busiest areas in Delhi, was chocked with a massive traffic snarl as vehicles came to a grinding halt. But few seemed to mind as a festive mood swept the whole nation.

Many esctatic men at the Wankhede stadium took off their shirts and did a round of the ground even as the securitymen tried to chase them away. Some took photographs of the pitch also.

President Pratibha Patil, who had witnessed the match at the stadium, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led the nation in hailing the Indian cricket team saying it is a testimony to the hard work of the players and the astute leadership of Dhoni.

In a message to Dhoni, Patil said "the road to success has been long and hard. You and your team were tested at every stage." She also invited the Indian team for a reception.

The Prime Minister said "the hard work and the effort of M S Dhoni and his men have been rewarded".

BJP chief Nitin Gadkari, senior party leaders L K Advani and Arun Jaitley and Shiv Sena leaders Uddhav Thackeray and Manohar Joshi also witnessed the match in the stadium.

The windfall for the team started with the the Board of Control for Cricket in India announcing Rs one crore for each player.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit also announced an award of Rs two crore for Dhoni and Rs one crore each for four Delhi players-- Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli and Ashish Nehra.

Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa announced his government would honour the victorious members of the Indian cricket team with a residential plot each from the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA).

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhrayal Nishank promised a residential plot or a house in Mussoorie hill station for Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar, who has been a regularvisitor there with his family.

He also announced that a stadium will be built in the state named after Dhoni.

Gujarat Government announced its highest sports honour Eklavya Award for Yousuf Pathan and Munaf Patel. The award carries Rs one lakh and a citation.

Legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar, actress Madhuri Dixit Nene and scores of Bollywood personalities greeted the Indian team. Actors Aamir Khan and his wife Kiran, Rajnikanth, Vivek Oberoi, Ranbir Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan, Preity Zinta, Shahid Kapoor, Amisha Patel, Sangita Bijlani and other stars cheered from the stands.

Industrialists Mukesh Ambani with wife Nita, Gautam Singhania and PK Munjal were also among the spectators along with Union Minister Kapil Sibal, former Union Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor and his wife Sunanda.

Hoards of sports lovers wearing Team India jersey and waving tricolours assembled at the houses of the players across the country and partied at the streets, causing traffic jams.

Hundreds gathered at a ground near Dhoni`s residence at Harmu in Ranchi to watch the tense battle between bat and ball on a giant screen. Fans danced to the tune of drums and cheered with the fall of each rival wicket and with each boundary hit by Team India.

Cheers became louder after Dhoni completed 6000 runs in one day cricket and then reaching to his half century, enlivening the fans who initially fell silent after openers Virender Sehwag and Tendulkar returned to the pavilion quickly.

Fans flocked to the popular three-kilometre Park Street stretch in Kolkata. Be it Dalhousie, the city`s central business district, or Salt Lake, the IT hub, or Esplanade, the city`s heart, or Shyambazar in North or Behala, the residence of Sourav Ganguly, frenzied celebrations kicked off all

With cheers of `Vande Mataram`, `Jai Ho` and `De Ghumake`, youngsters came out holding tricolors.

Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh`s mother Avtar Kaur did a round of bhangra with relatives and well-wishers at her Jalandhar residence.

An emotional Yograj Singh, father of player of the tournament Yuvraj Singh, said he couldn`t wait for him to come home and shed tears of joy over his son`s shoulder.

"I think I will hug him and probably weep over his shoulders ... he has made all of us so much proud," Yograj said and recalled how he had forced Yuvraj to take up cricket despite his son`s liking for skating.