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Team India returns home
March 29, 2007 10:28 IST
With a heavy security blanket thrown around them, India's fallen heroes sneaked home in the dark of night after their disastrous campaign in the cricket World Cup.
Virender Sehwag and Mahendra Singh Dhoni were the first to touch down an hour before midnight at the Indira Gandhi international airport in New Delhi.
The two were quietly whisked away by the security personnel through an exit gate, which caught the waiting mediapersons napping.
Unlike four years ago when they returned to a hero's welcome after reaching the final in South Africa, there was neither a huge fan gathering nor any Board official to receive the players.
Instead, present at the terminal were hordes of mediamen and security personnel who were there to provide adequate protection to the players against irate fans.
Coach Greg Chappell, whose fate now hangs in balance, landed in Mumbai along with Sachin Tendulkar, Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan and Munaf Patel. BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah and Administrative Officer Ratnakar Shetty were present at the airport to receive them.
Skipper Rahul Dravid and his Bangalore teammates Anil Kumble and Robin Uthappa also reached home early this morning.
For the media at the Bangalore airport, there was just a glimpse of Dravid sitting in his car with security personnel around. Same was the case with Kumble, who is about to announce his retirement from ODIs, and Uthappa, who seemed numbed by the setback in West Indies.
Despite heavy security, there was a media scramble in the airport just as the players' cars came out of the VIP gate. Uthappa's car almost ran over some media crew and it was hardly surprising that the airport crowd was a mixture of midnight travelers and a few airport staff, besides the journalists.
Former captain Sourav Ganguly, meanwhile, is supposed to remain in London for a few days before he returns to Kolkata.
Police did not leave any stone unturned to ensure that there was no untoward incident after India's early exit from the World Cup left the volatile cricket-crazy nation seething in anger.
Security was beefed up at the airports in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore and also around the residence of the main players.
Irate mob had recently attacked Dhoni's under-construction house in Ranchi and pelted stone at Zaheer Khan's restaurant in Pune.
Fearing a backlash, police will be maintaining strict vigil at the residences of Dhoni and Zaheer.
Mumbai Police are also not taking chance and they have increased security for Sachin Tendulkar's house and similar steps have been taken for Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and Robin Uthappa's residence in Bangalore and Harbhajan Singh's house in Jalandhar.
The Cup: The Complete Coverage
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