The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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A great moment: Pillay
Dhanraj Pillay celebrates his 35th birthday with teammates at their training base on Tuesday night. The Indian team is currently in Barog, undergoing physical conditioning for the forthcoming Champions Trophy. (PTI)

Barog (Himachal Pradesh): It was a day to remember for Dhanraj Pillay whose 35th birthday was celebrated by his teammates in grand style in this Himachal hill resort.

After their training sessions, the team threw a big party in the evening for their captain, the celebrations continuing almost till midnight.

“I am choked and would not forget these moments. I never had such a birthday with my teammates and will cherish this forever,” said an emotional Pillay Wednesday morning.

The veteran of almost 400 internationals was presented with a befitting gift — a hockey stick-shaped golden ring — amidst cheers of ‘happy birthday’ and ‘long live Dhanraj Pillay.’

“I am thrilled to get this gift… it was a nice gesture on their part,” Pillay said.

Throughout the day he received phone calls from well-wishers and fans, the first one coming from his mother who, Pillay said, continues to be his inspiration. “My mother is everything to me. She has made me whatever I am today,” Pillay said.

“Celebrating birthday without my family has become a habit for me. It has been happening for the last 10 years. But this time my teammates made me forget I am away from home,” he observed.

Himachal governor Justice V.J. Kokje also dropped in at the hotel to wish the player.

The birthday cake made specially for the occasion by a bakery in Solan, eight kilometres from here, was also unique.

The huge 10 kg cake, designed like a hockey field complete with goalposts and an Indian flag in the corner, had 35 roses to mark his 35th birthday.

“I am really overwhelmed with the arrangements… we have decided to celebrate birthdays of other team members the same way,” Pillay said. The hotel staff also did its job, giving a colourful ambience to the big conference room where the party started around 8 pm and continued till midnight. (PTI)

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