When India stunned the world

Just consider this: Branded a bunch of no-hopers Kapil Dev's Indians beat the Aussies to make the semi-final, beat the Englishmen to make the final, beat the West Indians to MAKE HISTORY... SPORTSTAR salutes the heroes...

Kapil Dev, the Indian skipper, with the World Cup in 1983.   -  The Hindu Photo Library

A WAVE of euphoria swept Lord’s as India achieved the improbable and added a new page to cricket history by beating the West Indies in the World Cup final. India, dismissed as novices without the basic allround skills to win such a competition, is the champion of the world in limited overs cricket. There has been no year in Indian cricket as significant as this one apart from 1971 when wins, as unexpected as this, were achieved in two Test series. It was in any case the improbable that India achieved.

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Cracks had developed in the West Indian squad but not so many that it could be tested on such an occasion as a World Cup final. And what a team effort that took to create a saga and to dispel theories about strengths and weaknesses. What a victory it must be to score only 183 and yet win by 43 in a match that was not notable for great batting.

Nervy bunch: The scenario would have been the same anyway whether Lloyd put India in or chose to bat, for India had already decided that its best chance lay in opting to bat if the toss was won. On a day on which no batsmen save Srikkanth and Vivian Richards defied the average poor standards, Indian bowling rose to the occasion to squeeze every bit out of the nervy methods of the West Indian batsmen.

It took a lot more than good line and length to fashion such a spectacular win. It was the kind of day on which the ball did seam around off a solid batting wicket. Batting had to be as solid as it was attacking and whereas the Indians got past the early period of pressure and collapsed later, the West Indies did not promise to prosper at any stage of its innings except for when Richards was in and made a mockery of the bowling. Madan Lai shows the way: The credit lies with Madan Lai who showed the first signs that the battle could be fought despite the state India was in when the West Indies was 50 for one.

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The transformation was as stunning as it was complete when Madan Lai chipped in with three wickets in Jsiur overs. Lloyd, hamstrung by a groin injury, played a poor shot at Binny. At a time when it looked as if Dujon and Marshall could still take the game jgway by methods that ranged from the Streaky to the solidly struck stroke, Kapil gambled by bringing Mohinder Amamath Bn from the Nursery end. With a spell of six overs from there, Mohinder bagged .three wickets and the celebration time had been brought forward.

All things fell in a slot for India with West Indian overconfidence bringing a few gift wickets and Indian bowling and catching cashing in on the openings in professional style. Otherwise, it would have hardly have been justice for batsmen like Srikkanth and Mohinder Amamath who Strove to justify the optimism with which India came into this final.

Controlled aggression: Accused of immaturity at various times in his short career, Srikkanth proved what controlled aggression could achieve even against a bowler like Joel Garner who really was setting them up from a length, seaming substantially and also proving so disconcerting to Gavaskar. Srikkanth played all his positive strokes with panache, the pulls, the flicks and the drives. It took a pacey incutter to have him playing too.early in over-anticipation.

Mohinder progressed in a solid way looking for the safe runs and tiding over the difficult period when the ball was new. This amount of seam movement can be expected at Lord's but the way the West Indies shaped it looked as if the match was being played on a stark turner.

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The Indian batting that followed after Srikkanth and Mohinder was too feckless to merit detailed description. Yashpal, Kapil, Kirti Azad, Patil and Binny contributed to their own downfall leaving the side so vulnerable that the full quota of 60 overs went unutilised.

Was a victory possible when Richards was in such good nick, looking the master batsman from the moment he came to the crease to strike seven 4's in his inimitable way? The Indians themselves could not have believed it but for Greenidge and Haynes shaping in a limp manner and Richards going ahead with a doubtful pull despite knowing he was not in perfect position.

Excellent captaincy: Kapil's handling of the bowling and his changes in field placement patterns were most effective indicating that he has just flowered as an international captain. No one would have liked to lead the side on this golden day.There was too much agony at every run given away and every false stroke made.

Would the golden chance slip away just as it seemed almost certain that the match had completely been transformed? Mohinder's vital breaks and Kapil's trapping of Andy Roberts leg-before confirmed the win which was delayed to some extent by the last pair of Holding and Garner.

Holding missed a pull and was well in front in the 52nd over and the scenes that followed were testimony to what India's performance has meant. The flag waving, chanting crowd swayed and cheered as the ceremonies of the presentation was gone through. Looking at the composition of the crowd one could almost think England had won the Cup.

Complacent: The West Indies, twice beaten in this World Cup by India, paid for its complacency. There may be a whole new regrouping of talent and a new venue when the time comes for the next World Cup. Until then India can rest on its laurels. Its collective ability made up for the lack of heavy armour in bowling. The switch to medium pace had shown that the very concept of limited overs is different from Test match cricket and for the first time India was given the chance by the picking of a side most suited to this form of sport.

A whole new era lies ahead for international cricket. Lloyd may retire and many of those who had made his team almost invincible in two World Cups may go away to play in South Africa. Yet, a great side came apart not because of divided loyalties but because there was an opponent that believed in itself and in the fact that any side can be beaten irrespective of the venue, conditions, umpiring, etc.

India's victory was a victory for cricket.

The scores:

India: S. M. Gavaskar c Dujon b Roberts 2; K. Srikkanth Ibw b Marshall 38; M. Amamath b Holding 26; Yashpal Sharma c (sub — Logie) b Gomes 11; S.M. Patil c Gomes b Garner 27; Kapil Dev c Holding b Gomes 15; Kirti Azad c Gamer b Roberts 0; R. Binny c Garner b Roberts 2; Madan Lai b Marshall 17; S. M. H. Kirmani b Holding 14; B. S. Sandhu (not out) 11; Extras 20; Total (in 54.4 overs) 183. Fall of wickets: 1-2, 2-59, 3-90, 4-92, 5-110,6-111,7-130,8-153,9-161. West Indies bowling: Roberts 10-2-32-3; Garner 12-4-24-1; Marshall 11-1-24-2; Holding 9.4-2-26-2; Gomes 11-1-49-2; Richards 1-0-8-0.

West Indies: C. G. Greenidge b Sandhu 1; D. L Haynes c Binny b Madan Lai 13; I.V.A. Richards c Kapil Dev b Madan Lai 33; C. H. Lloyd c Kapil Dev b Binny 8; L. A. Gomes c Gavaskar b Madan Lai 5; S. F. A. Bacchus c Kirmani b Sandhu 8; P. J. Dujon b Amamath 25; M. D.Marshall c Gavaskar b Amamath 18; A. M. E. Roberts Ibw b Kapil Dev 4; J. Garner (not out) 5; M. A. Holding Ibw b Amamath 6; Extras 14; Total 140 in 52 overs. Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-50, 3-57, 4-66, 5-66, 6-76, 7-119, 8-124, 9-126. India bowling: Kapil Dev 11-4-21-1; Sandhu 9-1-32-2; Madan Lai 12-2-31-3; Binny 10-1-23-1; Amamath 7-0-12-3; Azad 3-0-7-0.

This match report was published in Sportstar issue dated July 02, 1983

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