| Jagmohan Dalmiya
Calcutta: Almost two months ago he left the city unnoticed, circumspect about India’s chances at cricket’s quadrennial showpiece following the drubbing in New Zealand.
On Tuesday, Sourav Ganguly returned a hero, basking in the glory of what had been achieved, though tinged to an extent with the disappointment of what could have been.
They had come in hordes from all parts of the city and the suburbs long before Jet Airways flight 9W 211 from Mumbai touched down at 7.07 pm.
Banners welcomed the Indian skipper home along with bouquets, garlands and the Tricolour.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) chief Jagmohan Dalmiya, who arrived on the same flight, was hardly visible, lost in the background.
Fans representing the Friends of the Stadium, officials from the Cricket Association of Bengal, Sahara India Pariwar members, state sports minister Subhas Chakraborty, industrialist Harsh Neotia and, of course, the family — father Chandi, mother Nirupa, wife Dona and little Sana.
Even the overzealous securitymen seemed slightly overawed by the gathering, giving way, as a few hundred managed to breach the cordon and took position near the conveyer belt in the arrival lounge.
Chants of Aamra korbo joi ek din (We shall overcome some day) and ‘Well done Sourav’ filled the air as the Indian skipper stepped down from the escalator amid thunderous applause.
Everyone wanted to have a piece of him. Some even touched Sourav’s feet, to the utter embarrassment of their hero. It was with great difficulty that he managed to get near his family.
Once in Sourav’s arms, Sana looked perplexed and amazed by the hysteria surrounding her father. As Sourav made a move towards the VIP exit gate — after leaving his luggage in someone else’s charge — securitymen in tow, the roar outside reached a crescendo. Sana was too shocked to stop crying and even some intense cajoling from Sourav was not of much help. She had to be handed over to a family member.
“There were more people in Mumbai,” informed Sourav, not the least surprised by the fanfare. “Of course, we fared very well for all this. We’ve won nine out of 11 games. What more can we do'” Asked if all his targets had been achieved, he said: “Yes… except probably winning the final.”
He hasn’t planned anything significant for the days ahead. “It’s nice to be home. We’ve been playing continuously for the past two years and I’m looking forward to this break.”
For now, Sourav will be off cricket for a while.
Agencies add: Earlier, in Mumbai, Sourav stood by his decision to bowl first in the World Cup final against Australia, saying that the team’s dream had been “shattered” by “one off-day”. “There was dampness on the pitch and I knew there was something for the seam bowlers. We had one off-day which shattered our dreams.”
Sourav said the World Cup was history and he was already looking forward to India’s next engagements. “Now we will have to leave the disappointment behind and concentrate on the tri-series in Bangladesh from April 10 as there is always a next time to win the Cup,” he said.
“But there is still some time before that,” he added.
Meanwhile, Dalmiya said the team performed exceptionally well and he was more than satisfied.
Asked about the contentious sponsorship issue, Dalmiya said: “The Indian Board will take up the matter with ICC and the players can concentrate on playing. Though there has been no settlement so far we will take all the actions deemed necessary till the issue is resolved.”