Mumbai, Sep 26 (UNI) Cricket frenzy gripped Mumbai and the city stood standstill today as thousands of fans gave an unprecendented reception to the victorious Team India, which created history by winning the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup after beating arch rivals Pakistan in the final.
After the champion cricketers landed at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in the morning, a sea of humanity braved heavy rains and lined up to cheer the heroes on a 35 km long route from the airport to Wankhede Stadium where the main function to felicitate them was held amid unprecedented fan enthusiasm and rage.
The cricketers boarded a 'Vijay Rath' (an open decked BEST bus) at the airport and proceeded on a victory parade passing through famous landmarks like Mahim Church, Shivaji Park, Siddhivinayak temple, Haji Ali, Mahalaxmi temple and Marine Drive.
They covered the long route in five hours before reaching Wankhede Stadium where they were greeted by a further 40,000 people inside it waiting patiently to welcome the world champions. The team members also did a victory lap of the stadium for the fans.
BCCI Chief and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil and Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel received the champions at the airport.
The cricketers, led by captain M S Dhoni, showed no signs of jet-lag and responded to the fans' enthusiasm in equal measure.
Despite heavy rains, all the cricketers and the support staff, fully drenched, acknowledged the cheers of the fans all along the long route.
Carrying national flags, the young cricketers like Dinesh Karthik, Robin Uttappa, S Sreesanth, Irfan Pathan danced to the tunes of the songs like 'Chak de India', 'Jhoom Barabar Jhoom', 'Hum Hain Hindustani' as fans showered flower petals on them.
For once, office goers did not mind the traffic snarls as the city police and traffic personnel assisted by private security officials tried their best to ensure that there was no chaos.
On the Western Express Highway, youth belonging to Sarvajanik Ganesh Mandals started beating their dhols and burst crackers as the team bus passed by.