‘A great victory’

Sandeep Patil believes the victory was no fluke. "I cannot change the thinking of the people .... The wins against the West Indies side led by Clive Lloyd were magnificent."

Sandeep Patil, one of the architects of India's 1983 World Cup triumph.   -  The Hindu Photo Library

Sandeep Patil, one of the architects of India’s 1983 World Cup triumph, believes the victory was no fluke. “I cannot change the thinking of the people …. The wins against the West Indies side led by Clive Lloyd were magnificent,” he says.

Question: It’s 25 years since the 1983 World Cup triumph. How often do you think about that memorable moment at Lord’s?

Answer: It’s the other way — the fans keep reminding me and the team about the 1983 win. It’s really nice. There has been a change in the generation after that famous victory, but still all of them remind us of the great win against the West Indies in the final.

There couldn’t have been anything better than beating the West Indies in India’s first and last matches of the 1983 Prudential Cup — at Old Trafford and Lord’s?

There were some people who said it was a fluke. But we beat the West Indies in Berbice, then in our opening match of the World Cup and then the final. We also beat Australia and England. I cannot change the thinking of the people who said it was sheer fluke that we won. The wins against the West Indies side led by Clive Lloyd were magnificent.

Fifty-one runs off 32 balls with eight fours in the semifinal against England — you must have been a very happy man that night after actually taking India to the World Cup final?

I am sure Kapil (Dev), Kirti (Azad), Kiri (Syed Kirmani) or Roger (Binny) would have done the same thing. We were all charged up. After a solid foundation Mohinder Amarnath and Yashpal Sharma made something like 14 in 18 or 19 overs. We did not panic, but were nervous. Mr. Mansingh (the manager of the Indian team) was walking up and down. We were in the Lord’s balcony — Kapil and I were padded up and Sunil (Gavaskar) was there too. Kapil asked Sunil if he should change the batting order. Sunil felt all was fine and there was no need to change the order. Those days we had lunch and tea breaks.

When Jimmy (Mohinder Amarnath) and Yash returned to the dressing room during the break Mansingh quietly asked Jimmy if he knew the target. Jimmy replied that he knew what exactly he was doing with Yash. When play resumed, the two played smart cricket by rotating the strike and hitting boundaries. They played responsibly. When I stepped in, the asking rate was six-plus an over; those days four-plus an over was regarded very difficult to achieve, enough to give teams tension. I was quite confident of facing Bob Willis and I was really happy with the way I batted to take India into the final.

And your useful contribution of 27 in India’s total of 183 in the final?

I think the last wicket stand of 22 between Sandhu and Kiri was crucial. Srikkanth began well, then I too chipped in, but in the end Kiri and Sandu’s partnership mattered the most.

When did you actually believe India would win?

I am still trying to figure out how it all happened. We needed a breakthrough which we got quickly and then we got rid of Desmond Haynes. Clive Lloyd had hurt a hamstring. I think Viv Richards’ overconfidence helped us. He was all arrogance. Until the last wicket went down I did not believe India would win, but we never panicked. After the win the entire team and some BCCI officials were on the balcony; I occupied a place near the window and watched all that was happening inside the dressing room and the celebrations on the ground.

How did the team celebrate the victory?

We were put up at the Westmoreland Hotel, 100 metres from the Lord’s Cricket Ground. It took an hour to reach the hotel by coach. By the time we reached the reception desk, Ravi Shastri, I and most of the players had given away our shirts as souvenirs. We just had our trousers and blazers on and carried the kit bag. We got ready in 10 minutes and when we came down it was midnight and all I could see was the Indian community dancing and celebrating. I, Ravi and his friend drove to Piccadilly for a bite because the hotel bar and restaurant had nothing to give us.

It was 4 a.m. when we returned to the hotel. That was when I received a call from my mother saying everyone in the street at Shivaji Park (Mumbai) was celebrating.

Lord’s will always give you a special feeling?

After 1983, I went to Lord’s in 1996 as the coach of the Indian team. Lord’s has its own appeal, but I prefer the Brabourne Stadium. But when I went to Lord’s in 1996 and again in 2003, I remembered where I fielded during the World Cup final and the place I used to sit in the dressing room. Lord’s has changed, but memories have stayed with me.

This article appeared in the Looking Back / World Cup 1983 special section of Sportstar issue dated June 28, 2008