Ravi Shastri took 3 for 26 in India’s first big win against the West Indies at Old Trafford in the 1983 World Cup. He played in five matches at the World Cup, but did not figure in the final. Talking of India’s World Cup win, Shastri says it changed the face of Indian cricket.
Question: You have figured in some important one-day victories for India in the 1980s, but for obvious reasons the 1983 World Cup has to be on top?
Answer: The 1983 World Cup triumph changed the face of Indian cricket. The interest for the game increased manifold, big bucks began to pour in, the corporates came into the picture and above all the youth of India wanted to play the game.
It was a low scoring final in 1983, played over 60 overs. Was the West Indies over-confident?
I would say that the West Indies was complacent. The moment they dismissed India for 183, the West Indians thought they had wrapped up the match. They believed that if one batsman failed another would do the job. I think Clive Lloyd’s dismissal swung the game India’s way. It was not our problem that he was troubled by a hamstring; he was another opponent on the field for India.
India started with a win at Old Trafford; it turned out to be crucial?
The win against the West Indies at Old Trafford was very important and significant. The West Indians had not been beaten in a World Cup match for eight years. So that itself tells a story. It gave us the confidence and belief that if you can beat them once, why not again.
India won in England (1983), Pakistan in Australia (1992) and Sri Lanka in Pakistan (1996). It just goes to prove that the three teams have the potential to win it again?
There is no question about that. India’s win in 1983 was not only important for Indian cricket, but also for the sub-continent. When they (Pakistan and Sri Lanka) started matching up to India over the next decade they began to believe that if India can win the World Cup, then they too can. The supply line of young talent is such in the three countries that when the next World Cup comes, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will fancy their chances.
The perception that the all-rounders are crucial to success has not changed since 1983?
We had multi-skilled cricketers. If one gives one point for batting, one for bowling and one for fielding, and if one evaluates the 1983 team, most players would get at least two points. And India had 7 or 8 players with two points which means you are talking of a winning team.
What has stayed in your mind about the 1983 World Cup win?
Instead of 1983 alone, I would say that I was happy to be part of the team between 1983 and 1986 that won everything before it. Twenty-five years down the line, no matter who the cricket lover is, he will remember the four years because we won everything — the Prudential World Cup, Rothmans Asia Cup, Benson & Hedges World Championship of Cricket, Rothmans Four-Nation Cup.
India has not won the World Cup after 1983?
I am disappointed because India has the talent, but it’s no use being good on paper. Winning is ultimate.
This article appeared in the Looking Back / World Cup 1983 special section of Sportstar issue dated June 28, 2008