As soon as he entered the gate of W-54, the society in which he lives in Dadar, near Ruparel College, India’s ‘stand-in-captain,’ wearing a mask and a cap and holding his two year-old daughter Aarya and accompanied by his wife Radhika Dhopavkar, was greeted with a red carpet, showering of flower petals, the echoes of shehnais and dhol tashas and hundreds of people cheering: “aala re aala, Ajinkya aala,” (Ajinkya has come!), while capturing the moment on their mobile phones.
It was a special, heart-warming function which seemed to have been hurriedly organized by the residents of the building, in which he lives on the 44th (top) floor.
Earlier, the 32-year-old was greeted with plenty of photographers when he landed at the Mumbai airport on Thursday morning after arriving from Australia along with fellow Mumbaikars Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), head coach Ravi Shastri and opener Prithvi Shaw. The Mumbai batsman, who scored a match-winning hundred in Melbourne which triggered India’s comeback in the series Rahane, cut a cake to celebrate the triumph.
At the specially-organized reception below his residence, Rahane, with his wife in tow and daughter, then posed for pictures standing in front of a specially created background which displayed his excellent record as a Test captain so far: 5 (number of Tests in which has captained India), 4 (No of Tests India have won under him), 3 (No of Tests victories India have recorded against Australia with him as a captain) and 1 (one draw).
“As a father, I feel proud to see how my son led the team successfully when they were in a deep crisis in Australia. We could not go to meet to receive him at the airport, nor could we go to meet him his residence, as we had a family function at Kalyan. However, we spoke to him today after he reached home, on video call. Ghar mein Khushi ka mahaul hai. Humein Bahaut zyada khushi ho rahi hai (We’re overjoyed),” Rahane’s father Madhukar told TOI.
Rahane stepped in after Virat Kohli headed home on paternity leave, and then inspired India to a remarkable 2-1 series win in Australia. India came back from losing the first Test in Adelaide to beat the home team and retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in style, breaching fortress Gabba on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, upon arrival, the Team India players and the coach were felicitated by a few officials of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) officials, including president Vijay Patil and Apex Council members Ajinkya Naik, Amit Dani and Umesh Khanvilkar. “It was a feeling of great happiness and elation to welcome our players to Mumbai after Team India’s historic win. They have given us memories to savour for a lifetime,” Patil told TOI.
While the crowd was missing as the players exited through the VIP gate on level 4, they were greeted by a horde of photographers who clicked away happily once they saw the cricketers.
TOI had reported on Thursday that the team’s Mumbai-bound cricketers have been granted special ‘exception’ from the mandatory 14-day quarantine rule, which includes first seven days quarantine in a hotel/institution, provided they test negative for Covid at the Mumbai airport after arriving from Dubai on Thursday morning. The players have been granted a special exemption from the quarantine rules as they need to reach Chennai on January 27, when they will enter a bio-bubble ahead of the four-Test series against England. The first Test will kick off on February 5.