Rahane, Natarajan, Thakur receive hero’s welcome (2nd lead)
Mumbai, Jan 21 (IANS) Ajinkya Rahane, T. Natarajan and Shardul Thakur were among the cricketers who received a hero’s welcome on reaching their native places on their return from Australia on Thursday. While around 5,000 people received fast bowler Natarajan in Chinnappampatti village in Tamil Nadu and carried him on a tastefully decorated chariot, Rahane’s society members laid out a red carpet for him in Matunga, Mumbai.
Rahane, who captained India in the last three Tests after Virat Kohli returned to India after the first match due to family reasons, led the team to a memorable 2-1 series win.
Rahane held his little daughter Aarya and walked slowly on the long carpet laid out by the members of the society where he lives while a life-size poster of the batsman was pasted on one of the pillars, along with words “Congrats to Our Persistent Pillar” written on top of it.
A large number of his society members gathered near Rahane’s home as people showered rose petals on him while dhol and trumpets played constantly. Chants of ‘aala re aala Ajinkya aala’ (here comes our Ajinkya) could be heard. Rahane’s wife Radhika Dhopavkar also walked on the red carpet.
Besides Rahane, head coach Ravi Shastri, batsman Rohit Sharma and opener Prithvi Shaw reached Mumbai while the fourth Test hero Rishabh Pant landed in New Delhi early on Thursday morning.
Fast bowler Thakur, who played a stellar role with bat and ball in the final Test at the Gabba, was received by his family in Palghar, around 80 kms away from Mumbai. Images widely circulated on social media show Thakur hugging his parents.
Meanwhile, speedster Mohammed Siraj, who bagged a five-wicket haul in the second innings of the fourth Test that India won by three wickets, reached his home town Hyderabad, and visited the graveyard where his father is buried. His father passed away while Siraj was in Australia, and declined the team offer to visit Hyderabad to be with his family after his father’s death.
Natarajan, who made his India debut in all three formats during the Australia tour and played the Gabba Test that India won, arrived in Chinnappampatti village in Salem district of Tamil Nadu to a rousing reception. He was taken on a chariot to his home in the village with people playing percussion instrument chenda.
Rahane had taken over the captaincy from Kohli after the defeat in first Test in Adeliade, when the latter returned home to be with his wife who was expecting their first child. The baby was born last week.
India won the four-Test series 2-1. Their next assignment is a full fledged home series against England.