Sourav Ganguly mobbed on flight en route Nagpur for last test
On board Indigo's Calcutta-Nagpur flight 6E 404: Sourav Ganguly was among the last to board the Airbus on Monday evening. When he did, it led to near pandemonium.
Initially, the co-passengers reacted with disbelief. Within moments, though, there was a surge towards seat 1A and the cabin crew had a tough time persuading fans to allow completion of the pre-take off formalities.
There was normalcy for no more than seven-eight minutes before just about everybody again started converging on row No.1.
One Prabir Kumar Pal, chief general manager with the Central Mine Planning & Design Institute Ltd, got so emotional that he requested Sourav for an autograph in Bengali.
"Usually, I don't do this, but this is special... We've seen Sourav grow as an icon and, within a few days, we'll be seeing him say goodbye... I hope you understand," he explained.
Sourav, who made a hurried trip to Calcutta so that he could be present on daughter Sana's seventh birthday, was relaxed during the 90-minute flight and grinned when a girl came back saying he'd addressed one of the autographs to "Suman," when her brother's name actually was "Anshuman."
"Sorry, I'll make that correction," Sourav said and obliged in between sips of Mirinda.
Asked by The Telegraph whether he'd been emotional on leaving his Behala residence for the last time as an India cricketer, Sourav paused before replying.
"No... I'd prepared myself for this... That's not to say my father (Chandi) wasn't emotional... He wants me to smile right through the final Test (from Thursday) against Australia... In turn, I've asked him to smile whenever he sees me on the TV..."
Briefly, Sourav paused again.
"I won't miss cricket... I didn't decide to quit on an impulse... It wasn't an easy decision, yes, but I took it after much thought... Today, all I want is to sign off on a high... Obviously, I'd like India (1-0 up) to win the series too."
The first three Tests have seen Sourav total 239 (with an average of almost 60), including a character-packed 102 in Mohali.
The general feeling, of course, is that Adam Gilchrist's comments about the last India-Australia Test in Nagpur, four years ago, have soured the mood but Sourav hasn't been bothered.
"Look, I don't wish to react to what Gilchrist has written in his autobiography (True Colours)... I'd rather look back and draw inspiration from the fine innings I've played in Nagpur, not least the 98 on my ODI comeback in January last year (versus the West Indies). As a venue, Nagpur has been good to me."
Sourav, incidentally, pointed out that he'd turn out for Bengal in the Ranji Trophy if the team was in "desperate need" of his services. "That's a personal understanding I've reached with Mr (Jagmohan) Dalmiya..."
Great news that for the Laxmi Ratan Shuklas.
Meanwhile, wife Dona and Sana will be in Nagpur on Wednesday evening, well in time for the start of Sourav's last India appearance.