Indian cricket team’s new jersey launch for 2019 has coincided with Wing Commander Abhinandan’s return home from Pakistan. The Board of Control for Cricket in India decorated the ‘Real Hero’ by dedicating the occasion to him.
The Jersey No. 1 for the Blue Brigade has ‘WING COMMANDER ABHINANAND’ inscribed in bold letters on the back. That is the unique honour for a non-cricketer, but a true Star.
Abhinandan had landed in the net of Pakistan Army as his MIG 21 crash landed in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir after shooting down an F-16 fighter jet of the enemy which had intruded into the Indian territory.
The fighter pilot put up a brave front during the captivity before Pakistan was compelled under global diplomatic pressure created by the Indian regime to release him within 54 hours.
“ #WelcomeHomeAbhinandan You rule the skies and you rule our hearts. Your courage and dignity will inspire generations to come #TeamIndia,” reads the caption of the BCCI tweet with an image of Jersey No. 1.
— BCCI (@BCCI) 1 March 2019
Skipper Virat Kohli led the cricket fraternity in paying rich tributes to the ‘Real Hero’. “Real Hero. I bow down to you. Jai Hind,” stated Kohli on his official twitter handle @imVkohli.
Real Hero. I bow down to you. Jai Hind ?????? pic.twitter.com/kDgocwpclA
— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) 1 March 2019
“A hero is more than just four letters. Through his courage, selflessness and perseverance, OUR HERO teaches us to have faith in ourselves.
#WelcomeHomeAbhinandan,” stated Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar on his official twitter handle @sachin_rt.
A hero is more than just four letters. Through his courage, selflessness and perseverance, OUR HERO teaches us to have faith in ourselves.#WelcomeHomeAbhinandan
Jai Hind ??
— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) 1 March 2019
A patriotic Harbhajan Singh was first to raise the call for snapping all ties and boycott the ICC World Cup game against Pakistan after the Pulwama attack. The Turbanator too hailed Abhinandan as the Real Hero.
“Welcome home #Abhinandanhero Real hero of our Nation.. This is where you belong..proud of you ,” tweeted Harhajan.
Welcome home #Abhinandanhero Real hero of our Nation.. This is where you belong..proud of you ???❤️❤️❤️??????
— Harbhajan Turbanator (@harbhajan_singh) 1 March 2019
Virender Sehwag was at his humourous best as he twitted “I am not supposed to tell you this” (that you are a real hero) with a sketch of Wg Cdr Abhinandan.
How proud we are to have you ! Bow down to your skills and even more your grit and courage ? #WelcomeBackAbhinandan . We love you and are filled with pride because of you.#WeAreSupposedToTellYouThis pic.twitter.com/IfqBFNNa3T
— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) 1 March 2019
Former India captain Anil Kumble #Jumbo too saluted the brave pilot for his courage and determination.
The latest hero of every true Indian incidentally will also be a first no-cricketer to own up the Jersey No. 1 in the Indian cricket team’s One Day International kit.