KKR players get grand welcome in Kolkata

Kolkata: Gautam Gambhir`s three Bengali words "ami Kolkata r chele (I am son of the city)` on Monday won the hearts of fans gathered at NSC Bose International airport here to welcome `home` the Kolkata Knight Riders` players, who beat two-time defending champion Chennai Super Kings to be crowned new IPL champions.

Thousands of fans danced to drum beats and cheered the team, which arrived at 10.30 PM, for their maiden IPL success after five seasons.

The state ministers welcomed the team members with bouquets and garlands on a makeshift stage near the VIP gate No 5, close to the international terminal of the airport in Dum Dum.

Team CEO Venky Mysore hailed Gambhir and coach Trevor Bayliss for the success. "Gambhir has done a fantastic job as a leader so was our coach…I am proud of the team. Thank you Kolkata for all the support," he said.

The fans waited patiently for their triumphant team members to arrive as their flight was delayed by more than two hours. A makeshift stage was erected just outside the gate to welcome KKR co-owner Shah Rukh Khan and players, who arrived in two batches.

Slogans like `Three cheers for KKR, hip hip hurrah`, `KKR. KKR`, `Shah Rukh. Shah Rukh` rent the air as fans dressed in KKR jersey and carrying purple flags gathered at the airport. Many had come with lifesize posters of Shah Rukh Khan and team captain Gautam Gambhir. There were also posters with congratulatory messages. There would be a grand felicitation of the team at the Eden Gardens today and the entry is free.

Team owners Shah Rukh Khan, Jay Mehta and Juhi Chawla arrived at 11.45 PM. Chawla, dressed in a maroon top and white trousers, said, "It feels really special to see you people here every time. It`s because of your support we could win the title. I thank Chief Minister (Mamata Banerjee) for the grand welcome."

Shah Rukh Khan also joined in and said, "From today, KKR belongs to Bengal…Thank you very much for your support. We`re extremely happy to see all of you here."