MUMBAI, (Reuters) – Mahendra Singh Dhoni celebrated India’s World Cup triumph by shaving off his famous dark locks while his team mates spent yesterday morning plastering a “thousand kisses” on the silver and gilt trophy that was finally in their possession.
Bleary-eyed fans up and down country, who had spent the night dancing and singing away in “the world’s biggest street party”, speculated on what prompted Dhoni to shave off his mane just hours after he had guided India to glory.
The Indian captain chose not disclose why he had shaved his head and instead savoured holding aloft the 60 cm, 11 kg trophy in front of the Gateway of India, one of Mumbai’s best known landmarks
Team mate Yuvraj Singh, in jeans and a team t-shirt, was more expressive as he posed with the trophy and shared the heady emotions that sloshed inside the Indian dressing room.
“Everybody was hugging each other. Too many tears, too many emotions,” said the southpaw who grabbed the man-of-the-series award with his consistent all-round show.
“I think we kissed the World Cup trophy a thousand times. It was a dream for all of us.
“There was a lot of emotions. I saw Sachin (Tendulkar) having tears in his eyes for the first time. It was pretty emotional,” said Yuvraj who himself sobbed after India’s victory at the Wankhede Stadium and his voice was choked during the presentation ceremony.
Tendulkar explained what it meant for him and his nation.
“As a young boy, I grew up wanting to win it some day. It was something I always wanted.
“This is the ultimate trophy, the ultimate thing which brings smiles on the nation’s face. It makes all the well-wishers across the globe extremely happy,” said the batsman before leaving for a felicitation ceremony being hosted by Indian President Pratibha Patil.
Celebrations have not stopped since Dhoni hit that match-sealing six and India resembled a land of crazy insomniacs as millions of fans poured on to the streets across the country, blowing horns, standing on running bikes with the tri-colour flag in hand and hugging total strangers.
Traffic came to a standstill in Mumbai’s Marine Drive where fans were hanging out of cars, something former England skipper Michael Vaughan found amusing.
“Hanging out of the windows is the way to go,” Vaughan wrote on his Twitter page, posting a photograph to illustrate his point.
“…trying to crawl through all the Indian supporters who are partying all over the streets…incredible scenes,” he wrote.
India’s most enduring film personality Amitabh Bachchan and his family of actors hit the streets in the dead of the night, like thousands others, waving the tri-colour.
“It’s like we just won our independence! Incredible,” he wrote.
“No one is saying anything…just screaming…never before.”
In Delhi, Italian-born Sonia Gandhi, who is the leader of ruling Congress Party, mingled with cricket fans who had hit the streets.
Unsurprisingly, local governments around the country wanted to show their appreciation to the cricketers by showering them with gifts.
The Indian cricket board awarded 10 million rupees ($224,700) to every member of the squad.
On top of that, Delhi government said it would give Dhoni 20 million rupees, while four Delhi players — Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Ashish Nehra, and Virat Kohli — would get 10 million rupees each.
The Gujarat government announced an awards for Yusuf Pathan and Munaf Patel who hail from the state. Houses, cars and even more cash are just some of the gifts being given to the players.
Across the border too, Dhoni’s unflappable captaincy won him admirers.
“He deserves this honour because he has led the side by example. His coming into bat up the order in the final was a masterstroke,” former Pakistan captain Aamir Sohail said. “He didn’t make any major mistakes in the crucial games.”
Rashid Latif, another former captain, would have loved to have seen Tendulkar score his record 100th century in the final but was happy that the Indian finally tasted World Cup victory.
“It was not destined to be but I am very happy for Tendulkar because he is a great example for young cricketers and deserved to be part of a World Cup winning team after such an illustrious career.”
Latif felt India’s World Cup victory augurs well for the game.
“It means more money in cricket which is good for the sport and players,” he said.