New Delhi: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Saturday tweeted a photo of the Team India jersey carrying the name of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was released from Pakistan's clutches on Friday night.  

"#WelcomeHomeAbhinandan You rule the skies and you rule our hearts. Your courage and dignity will inspire generations to come," the BCCI tweeted. The brave Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot was 'allotted' jersey number 1.    

According to reports, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, flying a MiG-21 Bison aircraft engaged Pakistan's sophisticated US origin F-16 in a dogfight and brought down the enemy aircraft with an R-73 missile. According to some accounts, the difference in the capabilities of a MiG-21 Bison and F-16 is akin to that between a Maruti 800 and a high-end Mercedes-Benz car, and so, a MiG-21 Bison bringing down an F-16 was big news. It also spoke volumes about the skill of the Indian pilot. 

Varthaman's plane was, however, hit and he had to bail out. He was captured by the enemy and reports say that he was beaten up by villagers in Pakistani territory, before the enemy army took him away. The Indian pilot was released in quick time by the Imran Khan government as what it has tried to portray as a peace gesture, though the pressure of the Geneva Convention regulations and the international community on the Pakistani government, and also considering India's tough stand was clearly evident.  

On Friday, the BCCI had launched a new jersey for the Indian cricket team that it will sport in the upcoming World Cup. Varthaman being given jersey No 1 signifies that he has been given priority above all the players. What's more, the jersey number has been retired and reserved in the name of Wing Commander Varthaman. It means no other player will be allotted the jersey anymore. 

Cricket connoisseurs would remember the then Indian captain Mohammed Azharuddin to have worn jersey number 1 during the 1999 World Cup, which was played when India and Pakistan were engaged in a war in Kargil. 

Current captain Virat Kohli expressed his happiness over the return of Varthaman and posted a picture on Twitter on Friday night, saluting him. 

It is to be mentioned that during the recent T20I series against Australia that occurred after the Pulwama terror attack on February 14, India played wearing a black armband and maintained a silence for two-minutes.