New Delhi: India's young but triumphant cricket team arrived here Thursday to a hero's welcome after winning an international triangular one-day series by beating Australia on their own turf.
A resurgent India beat Ricky Ponting's world champions by nine runs in Brisbane on Tuesday to clinch the series final 2-0. Sri Lanka were the other team in the fray.
It was India's third success at international level since September 2007 when they won the Twenty20 World Championships in South Africa. They also clinched the Under-19 World Cup in Malaysia last Sunday.
Thousands of fans waited outside the airport to cheer their favourite cricketers, who flew into New Delhi from Australia after a short stop in Mumbai to change planes.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni thanked the fans at a packed Ferozeshah Kotla ground here for supporting the team on what was at times a testing tour Down Under.
"I thank all the fans for their support. I think this is the kind of motivation we need. It was a tough tour, but the way the players conducted on and off the field was amazing," he said.
"I also thank my team-mates, without whom it (victory) would not have been possible. I hope we will continue to entertain you like this."
The tour of Australia, marred by controversy and bad blood, looked in danger of being called off after a Test in Sydney against the hosts when Harbhajan Singh was suspended for allegedly racially abusing Andrew Symonds.
The International Cricket Council later overturned the suspension following an appeal hearing.
As well as instant fame and enduring popularity in cricket-mad India, the winning squad also received a cash award of 100 million rupees (2.5 million dollars).
"Beating Australia in Australia is a big achievement. I congratulate Dhoni and his team. This is turning out to be a good year for Indian cricket," said Indian cricket board president Sharad Pawar.