India will complete 75 years of independence this year. Here is a series acknowledging 75 great sporting achievements by Indian athletes. Sportstar will present one iconic sporting achievement each day, leading up to August 15, 2022.
India climbs pinnacle of glory
This was the roseate day of the apotheosis of Indian cricket. The day on which the World Cup was won by a team which was until then as remote from the zenith of achievement in limited-over cricket as the traditional is from the modern.
In a match filled with dramatics that came in waves, created to a large extent by insipid batting from the challenger as well as the defending champion, India proved itself capable of keeping its nerves together and cashing in on the openings that were first given and then seized.
As fortunes fluctuated wildly at Lord's, the West Indian batting, let down by its specialists who tossed away their wickets, could not cope with the efficient and accurate Indian bowling. The principle of blending aggression with caution to suit the gameplan of striking from a position of strength, was foresaken by both teams in sudden and thoughtless assaults on the bowling, which picked up in efficiency levels from every gain.
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In splendid batting conditions, only Kris Srikkanth (38) and Viv Richards (33) kept above the low average. India got over the initial stress of quick bowling, that made use of the freshness of the wicket and early bounce, and yet could not make a total to fight such a side.
The West Indians, on the other hand, lost wickets at frequent intervals, and once Richards - Kapil Dev, running from midwicket with his back to the pitch for a good 15 yards, took the catch with impeccable judgement off Madan Lal's bowling - and Clive Lloyd fell, there was no one capable of counterattacking.
Captain Kapil, who kept alternating between attack and defence, did everything right. Running the bowling changes effectively when Jeffrey Dujon and Malcolm Marshall fought to resurrect the position (76 for six) with a 43-run stand, the Indian captain achieved a vital breakthrough by employing Mohinder Amarnath. Dujon was done in by an in-cutter that went off the inside face of the bat and onto the leg stump.
The bowlers, particularly Lal and Amarnath, responded to the skipper's call with a tight line and length, and the West Indian batting weaknesses that had been glossed over by the form of the top-order batsmen, were exposed for only the second time in history.
Only once before had the West Indies been shot out for less in a one-day international - 127 by England in Berbice in 1980.
The historic win finally came when Holding, aiming a wild pull off Amarnath, was caught plumb in front.
India won by a substantial margin of 43 runs, with Amarnath adjudged man-of-the-match for his figures of 7-0-12-3.
Kapil Dev's rescue act at Tunbridge Wells
It was simply the single biggest individual contribution to a team's win in a World Cup. The garden of England, Kent, became Kapil Dev's yard of fame. No praise could be high enough for a stupendous batting effort that took the Indians from the horrendous depths of 17 for five to a total of 266 - India's best in a World Cup - that could not have been imagined as possible once Peter Rawson and Kevin Curran exploited a soft pitch and indecisive and weak batting.
Kapil would have been crucified had India tumbled and dropped all its chances in the World Cup. It was a difficult decision to take, that of batting first, but the issue had been pre-determined by India's run rate. The least the early Indian batsmen could have done was to wriggle past the first few overs with minimal loss but in the shambles, Yashpal Sharma's nine was the highest score in 17.
Considering that the next highest score on the card was Syed Kirmani's 26, Kapil's 175 assumes a dimension almost above human possibility. He achieved it in what was easily the finest innings he has ever played in his remarkable career. Safe play was the first demand. Kapil met it with resolute defence and admirable choice of the ball for the drive.
Roger Binny was the first to promise some support. Madan Lal and Kirmani followed suit but this was a one man crusade from the start. When Kapil is meeting them off the meat, there is very little any bowler can do. The tormentors became the tormented soon as Kapil swung into Rawson, Curran and John Traicos with a vengeance, striking 16 fours with delectable flicks and full-blooded drives.
The action hotted up once Rawson tired. The Nevill ground, with its spread of hospitality tents and rhododendrons, suddenly looked too small as Kapil repeatedly pulled and ondrove for a total of six sixes. His first 50 took him 26 overs, his second 13 and the third just 11. There was a stirring round of applause when Kapil crossed 171 and he turned to ask Barrie Meyer what it was all about. Kapil was briefed about the record of Glenn Turner he had placed in the pale.
Kapil's innings picked up as the pitch played easier and there was not a semblance of a mishit apart from clean lofts that just failed to clear the fence and tantalisingly out of reach of scrambling deep fielders. Against the most athletic and best all-round fielding side, Kapil made his runs. With the scores juggling their figures, no one knew how many balls Kapil faced for this mammoth effort. At a fair guess, he must have used up 190 to 200 of the 300 that were bowled while he was in, from the start of the 11th over to the final ball.
Tracing India's glorious campaign
India vs West Indies, Manchester, June 9-10, 1983
Result: India won by 34 runs
Prior to this win, India had won only one match at the World Cup – against East Africa. Thanks to Yashpal Sharma’s 89, India put up a decent total of 262 for eight.
West Indies struggled in its chase, losing wickets at regular intervals after a first-wicket partnership of 49. At 157 for nine, Andy Roberts and Joel Garner put on a partnership of 71 runs. Eventually, the partnership and contest ended when Garner was stumped off the bowling of Ravi Shastri, who ended up taking three wickets.
India vs Zimbabwe, Leicester, June 11, 1983
Result: India won by five wickets
Madan Lal took three top-order wickets in helpful conditions to bowl Zimbabwe out for 155. Fellow seamer Roger Binny took two wickets.
In reply, India lost a couple of early wickets but Mohinder Amarnath and Sandeep Patil steadied the ship. After scoring 50, Patil was dismissed by fast-medium bowler Duncan Fletcher. India romped home in the 38th over.
Australia vs India, June 13, 1983
Result: Australia won by 162 runs
India tasted its first defeat in the 1983 World Cup against Australia, the 1975 World Cup finalist. Batting first, Australia put up a sizeable total of 320 on the board, in 60 overs, thanks to a century from Trevor Chappell, and half-centuries from Kim Hughes and Graham Yallop. India’s captain Kapil Dev took five wickets.
In reply, India was bundled out for 158, Kapil top-scoring with 40. Sunil Gavaskar did not play this contest. Seamer Ken MacLeay took six wickets.
India vs West Indies, The Oval, June 15, 1983
Result: West Indies won by 66 runs
West Indies avenged its loss in its opening game by a comprehensive defeat of India at The Oval. Viv Richards scored a century to enable his team to put up a total of 282 for nine. Mohinder Amarnath’s 80 kept India in the hunt in the first half of the chase, but India was delivered a blow when Dilip Vengsarkar was hit in the mouth by a short-pitched delivery from Malcolm Marshall after he had put on 67 runs for the third wicket with Amarnath.
Barring contributions from Sandeep Patil (21) and Kapil Dev (36), the rest of the batting crumbled, with Marshall and Michael Holding wiping out the tail.
India vs Zimbabwe, Tunbridge Wells, June 18, 1983
Result: India won by 31 runs
Kapil Dev walked in to bat with India struggling at nine for four; the team soon lost another wicket, and the score became 17 for five. Kapil, however, changed the complexion of the innings, hitting 16 fours and six sixes in his 138-ball knock. Roger Binny, Madan Lal and Syed Kirmani gave him the platform by preventing a collapse.
It was the highest individual score in the World Cup until Viv Richards surpassed the score in the 1987 World Cup. Zimbabwe was bowled out for 235, Kevin Curran top-scoring with 73. Lal took three wickets.
The contest was not televised as the BBC was on strike.
Australia vs India, Chelmsford, June 20, 1983
Result: India won by 118 runs
Australia’s batting collapse triggered by Madan Lal and Roger Binny, who took four wickets each. Through a collective batting effort, India set Australia a target of 248. Yashpal Sharma top-scored with 40 and Sandeep Patil scored 30. Opener Kris Srikkanth, Kapil Dev and Binny made small contributions, too.
Australia, at one point 46 for one, stagnated to 78 for seven. It was eventually bowled out for 129. Kim Hughes, the captain and top-order batsman, was absent due to injury.
India had qualified for the semifinals.
Semifinal - England vs India, Manchester, June 22, 1983
Result: India won by six wickets
Mohinder Amarnath took two wickets and scored 46 runs to be the Player-of-the-Match. England, batting first, was bowled out for 213, with Kapil Dev registering the best figures of three for 35.
India romped home in the 55th over, Yashpal Sharma and Sandeep Patil hitting half-centuries. It was a commanding performance by India for a place in the final.
Final - India vs West Indies, Lord’s, June 25, 1983
Result: India won by 43 runs
India was a rank outsider coming into the World Cup but became only the second team – after West Indies - to clinch the title. David Frith, the editor of the Wisden Cricket Monthly , had predicted before the tourney had begun that India could not win the title and that it should be made to qualify for future World Cups. After the final, Frith published a picture of him literally eating his words, responding to a letter from a reader asking him to do that.