Home IPL 2024 Mumbai Celebrates the Return of World Cup Champions

Mumbai Celebrates the Return of World Cup Champions


In Mumbai, this time of year heralds the arrival of the monsoon, and true to form, it made its presence felt on Thursday evening, July 4. Despite sporadic drizzles, Mumbaikars were undeterred as they thronged in huge numbers to welcome the cricket heroes returning with the T20 World Cup, reports Live Cricket Score.

While a brief seasonal shower paled in comparison to the challenges faced by the Indian team in Barbados during Hurricane Beryl, it did little to dampen the spirits of Mumbai on July 4.

“Mumbai never fails to amaze. The reception we received was overwhelming. On behalf of the team, we extend our heartfelt thanks to the fans. I am incredibly happy and relieved,” said Rohit Sharma amidst thunderous applause from the packed Wankhede Stadium crowd, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the World Cup champions since 3 PM. The players, earlier felicitated by the Prime Minister in New Delhi, could only reach the stadium by 8 PM.

Around 35,000 fans cheered passionately inside the stadium while an equal number gathered outside, unable to secure entry. Hundreds of thousands lined the iconic Marine Drive, where the victorious team was paraded on an open-top bus. The sea of people on the streets seemed to rival the adjacent Arabian Sea in size.

Not long ago, these fans had criticized Hardik Pandya for replacing Rohit as captain of the Mumbai Indians, even booing him. However, when Rohit praised ‘Pandya’—who bowled the crucial final over against South Africa in the final—the crowd erupted in cheers.

“Hats off to him for bowling that last over. The pressure is immense no matter the required runs. Hats off to him,” Rohit said, referring to Pandya defending 15 runs in the final over. The Wankhede crowd chanted ‘Hardik, Hardik’ as Pandya acknowledged their newfound support. Any past animosity between them seemed forgotten; a new bond had formed between Pandya and the Mumbai crowd.

Thursday was a celebration Mumbai embraced with characteristic zeal, waiting over six hours despite inclement weather. The fans ‘ enthusiasm remained unwavering from the team’s arrival at 5:30 PM to the 7:30 PM roadshow, reflecting their indomitable spirit and collective energy.

Cricket runs deep in the veins of Mumbai’s common folk. Once an elitist sport introduced by the British, it has transformed into a mass phenomenon. In the 1960s and 70s, names like Merchants, Manjrekars, Umrigars, and Wadekars drew unprecedented crowds. Sunil Gavaskar, emerging in the 1970s, became India’s first true cricketing icon. Mumbai’s own Sachin Tendulkar achieved legendary status with his achievements, including the 2011 ODI World Cup triumph at the Wankhede, where he was famously carried on his teammates’ shoulders.

Mumbai lives and breathes cricket, seamlessly intertwined with the city’s fabric. Numerous grounds dot its narrow lanes—Shivaji Park, the Gymkhanas, Azad Maidan, Oval Maidan, and Cross Maidan—each hosting multiple matches at any given time. In Mumbai, cricket never sleeps.

Rahul Dravid encapsulated Mumbai’s passion for the sport, saying, “I will miss this love. Today’s reception has been phenomenal. It’s the fans who truly define cricket. We owe them everything.” Reflecting on his decision to stay as coach until the T20 World Cup after the heartbreak of the 50-over World Cup, Dravid credited Rohit Sharma’s persuasive phone call as pivotal. “It was the best call I ever received,” Dravid acknowledged warmly.

The event was marked by simplicity, devoid of Bollywood glamour or political overtones that sometimes accompany such grand occasions. Unlike the fanfare following India’s maiden T20 World Cup win in 2007, this celebration remained purely about the cricket and its adoring fans.

At 20 years old, Rohit Sharma was part of that 2007 victory celebration and drew comparisons between then and now. “It took a while for the trophy to come around again,” he remarked, echoed by Virat Kohli, who, as a senior player, shared fans’ hunger for a global title, absent since 2013. “The fans wanted the silverware more than we did,” Rohit affirmed, dedicating the trophy to their unwavering support.


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