After the feat, juniors come home to a grand reception

Mumbai, Aug. 28 -- For more than an hour - the 100-odd people, half of them scribes and the rest dominated by Punjabis from Malad led by Jasbir Singh, spinner Harmeet Singh's father - waited anxiously at the arrival gate of the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport.

And while the Punjabis played to the lensmen by intermittently performing bhangra to the tunes of a dhol, the man who was playing the musical instrument, Shravan Bhat, was clueless as to why he was hired and made to play at the airport.

Bhat wasn't the only one. Most of the bystanders and passengers who were exiting the terminal were also clueless about the circus. But that wasn't the case with the airport staff, who knew whose arrival was being anxiously awaited.

And once the contingent of 20-odd personnel from India's victorious under-19 cricket World Cup arrived at the exit of the terminal, the Punjabis eventually let loose. Such was the joy on their faces to see their munda Harmeet, who was one of the stars of India colts' triumphant campaign in Australia that ended on Sunday that most of them literally pounced on him.

Such was the enthusiasm and anxiety of Harmeet's family and friends, including those from his college cricket team, that bystanders were left to wonder who the captain of the team was. But considering he was the hometown boy, Harmeet's adulation didn't come as a surprise.

While he was cherishing every moment, most of his teammates, including captain Unmukt Chand and coach Bharat Arun, made a quiet exit while shaking hands with the odd bystander.

But if the players had started considering themselves as big stars, akin to their senior counterparts in Indian cricket, here's a reality check: Just as a player stopped to let a bystander click his picture, the moment the photograph was clicked, the so-called fan asked: "What's your name?" Time will tell if this bunch indeed make a name for themselves.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

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