‘We dented Windies’ pride’

"The World Cup triumph triggered a fresh wave of enthusiasm and interest in the young cricketers," says Dilip Vengsarkar in a chat with Sportstar.

"We had beaten a side that was deemed invincible," Dilip Vengsarkar said.   -  The Hindu Photo Library

Dilip ‘Colonel’ Vengsarkar was in splendid touch, stroking the ball through the ‘V’, when a Malcolm Marshall snorter struck him on the face at the Oval. This ended his 1983 World Cup appearance. Though he was fit for the final, India retained its winning combination.

Vengsarkar talks to Sportstar about India’s great win at Lord’s.

Question: The year 1983 ought to be memorable for Indian cricket?

Answer: It was a historic win. The World Cup triumph triggered a fresh wave of enthusiasm and interest in the young cricketers. It was a great achievement.

Significantly, India’s win ended West Indies’ strong run in the World Cup. The West Indies, which won the World Cup in 1975 and 1979, has failed to win the competition thereafter?

We beat the West Indians at Berbice first and then when we beat them in our opening match of the competition, it gave us a lot of confidence. We had beaten a side that was deemed invincible. We put them under immense pressure after Old Trafford. Even in the next match we were actually cruising with Jimmy (Mohinder Amarnath) and myself in full control before I was hurt.

You made an aggressive 32 before being forced to retire at the Oval?

I regretted not being able to continue. I was really playing well. We could have won that game also, the wicket was good and the outfield at the Oval was fast.

Would you attribute India’s victory largely to the performance of the seam attack (Kapil Dev, Madan Lal, Roger Binny, Mohinder Amarnath and Balwinder Singh Sandhu)?

Of course, there is no question about it. The English conditions helped them and they made the ball wobble a lot. They turned out to be a great combination. Defending 183 was an incredible effort.

Opening the World Cup campaign with a win against the West Indies at Old Trafford must have been a big morale-booster?

The West Indies was the clear favourite. It had won in 1975 and 1979 and had dominated world cricket for 10 years. It was a great side, full of splendid athletes.

Its pride was dented when we beat it in the final.

What was the turning point of the final — the dismissal of Gordon Greenidge (1-5) or Vivian Richards (57-3)?

We were defending a small score and had to take wickets. So it was not a question of these two batsmen getting out. One or two partnerships and they could have won the World Cup for the third time.

India has not won the World Cup again?

In 1987, we began as the favourite. We lost in the semifinal. Then we reached the final in 2003. We have a strong team now. The standard of fielding has improved.

We used to lose in the last 15 overs, but here too India has improved. We will be a force to reckon with in the 2011 World Cup.

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