| Sourav Ganguly |
On board Indigos Calcutta-Nagpur flight 6E 404: Sourav Ganguly was among the last to board the Airbus on Monday evening. When he did, it led to near pandemonium.
Initially, the co-passengers reacted with disbelief. Within moments, though, there was a surge towards seat 1A and the cabin crew had a tough time persuading fans to allow completion of the pre-take off formalities.
There was normalcy for no more than seven-eight minutes before just about everybody again started converging on row No.1.
One Prabir Kumar Pal, chief general manager with the Central Mine Planning & Design Institute Ltd, got so emotional that he requested Sourav for an autograph in Bengali.
Usually, I dont do this, but this is special... Weve seen Sourav grow as an icon and, within a few days, well be seeing him say goodbye... I hope you understand, he explained.
Sourav, who made a hurried trip to Calcutta so that he could be present on daughter Sanas seventh birthday, was relaxed during the 90-minute flight and grinned when a girl came back saying hed addressed one of the autographs to Suman, when her brothers name actually was Anshuman.
Sorry, Ill make that correction, Sourav said and obliged in between sips of Mirinda.
Asked by The Telegraph whether hed been emotional on leaving his Behala residence for the last time as an India cricketer, Sourav paused before replying.
No... Id prepared myself for this... Thats not to say my father (Chandi) wasnt emotional... He wants me to smile right through the final Test (from Thursday) against Australia... In turn, Ive asked him to smile whenever he sees me on the TV...
Briefly, Sourav paused again.
I wont miss cricket... I didnt decide to quit on an impulse... It wasnt an easy decision, yes, but I took it after much thought... Today, all I want is to sign off on a high... Obviously, Id like India (1-0 up) to win the series too.
The first three Tests have seen Sourav total 239 (with an average of almost 60), including a character-packed 102 in Mohali.
The general feeling, of course, is that Adam Gilchrists comments about the last India-Australia Test in Nagpur, four years ago, have soured the mood but Sourav hasnt been bothered.
Look, I dont wish to react to what Gilchrist has written in his autobiography (True Colours)... Id rather look back and draw inspiration from the fine innings Ive played in Nagpur, not least the 98 on my ODI comeback in January last year (versus the West Indies). As a venue, Nagpur has been good to me.
Sourav, incidentally, pointed out that hed turn out for Bengal in the Ranji Trophy if the team was in desperate need of his services. Thats a personal understanding Ive reached with Mr (Jagmohan) Dalmiya...
Great news that for the Laxmi Ratan Shuklas.
Meanwhile, wife Dona and Sana will be in Nagpur on Wednesday evening, well in time for the start of Souravs last India appearance.