New Delhi:India's victorious cricketers returned home in batches in different cities in the wee hours on Thursday after their historic Test series triumph in New Zealand.
While charismatic skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, man-of-the-series Gautam Gambhir, opener Virender Sehwag, pacer Ishant Sharma and spinner Amit Mishra landed at the capital's Indira Gandhi International Airport, Sachin Tendulkar and four others - Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Munaf Patel and Dhawal Kulkarni - returned to a tumultous welcome in Mumbai.
Some members of the team's support staff also landed in Mumbai alongwith Tendulkar and co. The south-based cricketers, including stalwarts Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, went directly to their respective cities.
Under Dhoni, India defeated New Zealand in their own backyard in a Test series for the first time since Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi's team had vanquished the Kiwis in 1967-68. Dhoni and his colleagues were greeted to a tumultuous welcome by a large number of fans who had gathered at the airport.
Sehwag was accompanied by his wife Aarti, while Ishant's father, Vijay Sharma was there at the airport to receive his son.
Tendulkar thanked the countrymen soon after landing in Mumbai, saying the entire nation supported the team in its quest to create history on Kiwi soil.
"It's an achievement. Everyone is happy. The entire country has supported us. It was victory after 41 years," the champion batsman told reporters at the Sahar airport.
Tendulkar made vital contributions with the bat in both the five-match one-day series and the Test rubber.