Hero Cup 1993: An unforgettable night

Exactly 25 years ago (November 27, 1993), India held aloft the Hero Cup after beating West Indies by 102 runs in front of 90,000-odd spectators at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. We savour that memorable victory once more...

The turning point of the final. An overconfident Brian Lara is bowled lock, stock and barrel by pearshootar Sachin Tendulkar.   -  The Hindu Photo Library

Ajit Wadekar had a big smile that night. Every move of his had clicked. He had insisted on the same team which toured Sri Lanka even though it had lost the one-day series. At the end of the tournament, as Mohammed Azharuddin held aloft the Hero Cup, one was left admiring Wadekar's ability to get the best out of his players.

West Indies was outclassed at the Eden Gardens. The whopping margin was a proof of India's domination in a match which the West Indies began as the favourite. The Indians won by 102 runs and Richie Richardson could hardly complain. India had played much better and was a clear winner. The Roland Holder incident notwithstanding.

Ata time when the talk of putting him out to pasture was gaining currency, the old war-horse, Kapil Dev, proved his detractors wrong. In a splendid spell he took two prize West Indian wickets, Keith Arthurton (in picture) being one of them.   -  The Hindu Photo Library

 

Did someone say drop Kapil Dev. That Sachin Tendulkar was proving a liability and ought to justify his place in the side. That Ajay Jadeja was not cut out for cricket at this level. That Vinod Kambli lacked the technique to take on the West Indians pace battery. The answers came in front of the 90,000-odd spectators at the Eden Gardens and millions of viewers on televison. Kapil, Tendulkar, Jadeja and Kambli had a great role to play in India's convincing victory over the West Indies.

Not to forget leg-spinner Anil Kumble, who left the West Indians dazed with his mesmerising stuff. In the space of 24 balls, Kumble conceded just four runs and packed off six batsmen. The West Indians have known to be suspect against spin even though Richardson argued that it was a "myth" that they could not tackle the turning ball. Not many gave India a chance.

The bails are down and the Indians go up in appeal, contending that Roland Holder is out, bowled. The umpire Ian Robinson was unsighted and even his colleague at square leg, Karl Liebenberg, was caught unawares. So they referred the issue to the third umpire, who declared Holder out, bowled.   -  The Hindu Photo Library

 

The West Indians had thrashed Sri Lanka the night before and the Indians had managed to scrape through after a dream last over from Tendulkar. Plus, Richardson and his men had won the Sharjah Cup prior to coming to India for the Hero Cup. But every soul at the Eden Gardens prayed for an Indian victory. They cheered the team every moment, and as many members of the team conceded, the support from the stands was a very vital factor. It was thus understandable that Azharuddin gave a lot of credit to the Calcutta crowd and dedicated the Hero Cup triumph to the people of India.

The emotional feelings of Azhar were also understandable, for India had won a Cup final after a long time. Before the match, Wadekar and Azharuddin were confident that it was going to be a much different game than the earlier ones. "We peaked at the right moment," said Wadekar, as he followed the victory celebrations on the ground. "I just want to watch the boys enjoy" he said in a choked tone. Even the players were keen to give this gift to their manager.

Carl Hooper was supposed to be one of the better players of spin bowling in the West Indian team, but then even he was bamboozled by Anil Kumble.   -  The Hindu Photo Library

 

"We had to do it for him (Wadekar). He has been such an inspirational figure to the side, always keeping faith in our abilities and wanting us to keep improving", Azharuddp said in praise of his cricket manager. The celebrations that followed the victory were short. Most of the team members were to disperse early next morning but the mood in the dressing room was upbeat. The team had worked hard in every match, improved in every department and looked a champion side in the final, which, disappointingly, was a one-sided affair.

The discordant note was struck by umpire lan Robinson's inability to judge Holder's dismissal. The batsman was bowled and even the other umpire, Carl Liebenberg, was caught unawares. "I just saw the bails flying," Liebenberg said. Robinson was unsure and to every- one's astonishment, there was a signal for the third umpire. Richardson complained that it was against the rules. "The third umpire is to judge only line decisions," he said.

Richie Richardson was emphatic that the third umpire had gone beyond his brief. The official should confine himself to judging run outs and stumpings, the then West Indian captain said.   -  The Photo Hindu Library

 

Holder was bowled and there was no doubt about it from the television replay. However, Holder was 'declared' bowled and that led to plenty of debate. The Adjudicator, Bishen Singh Bedi, turned down the West Indian appeal to intervene. So did the International Cricket Council Chairman Clyde Walcott. The technicalities apart, Holder was 'declared' bowled and that, according to Richardson, was the turning point of the match. The West Indians just caved in from that position as Kumble ran riot with the lower order.

There were stages when India appeared to have lost the rhythm. After Jadeja and Kambli had repaired the early damage with some enterprising batting, India, from 161 for two, slipped to 161 for five. All because of a run out. Azharuddin dropped the ball at his feet and took off. Kambli responded but Curtly Ambrose, the bowler, also took off. Kambli had little chance as the tall West Indian kicked the ball into the stumps. Six balls later Azharuddin fell in trying to steer and four balls later Pravin Amre was back.

Then came an encouraging and sensible stand of 46 runs between Kapil and Tendulkar. Both had struggled till this match, but chose the right time to come good and it was this partnership which really gave India a sound total to defend. Richardson had erred in giving India the first strike and a target of 200-plus was always going to be difficult on a pitch which saw the ball come slowly. Kambli (68) played some delightful shots in his 90-ball essay. So did Jadeja, who made a big impact in the side with his fielding and bowling in the semifinals. His six over midwicket off Winston Benjamin was a stunning shot. Another stroke worth mentioning was Azharuddin's cut off Simmons, beating two men on the fence.

Vinod Kambli was pretty positive from the beginning and carried the attack to the West Indian bowlers.   -  The Hindu Photo Library

 

The Indians batted sensibly, keeping their wickets in hand and gave their bowlers a good chance to press for a win. When West Indies batted, every bowler made a valuable contribution. Manoj Prabhakar, as usual, gave an early breakthrough, scalping Simmons off the sixth ball of the innings. When the Richardson-Brian Lara stand assumed alarming proportions, Tendulkar got one past the left-hander to make an important dent. The match was still open as Richardson, growing in confidence with every ball, and Keith Arthurton looked solid.

It was here that Kapil took over. He trapped Arthurton in front and held a return catch as Richardson was foxed by the slow pace. The West Indian innings was in a mess and the dismissal of Holder put the issue beyond doubt. West Indies has a long tail and Kumble, in a sensational spell, ripped through the batting with a mixture of leg-spinners, googlies and top-spinners. The West Indians gave in meekly and for the second time in three days, the Eden Gardens wore a fascinating look, crackers and bonfires electrifying the atmosphere.

The Indians had been inconsistent in their run-up to the semifinal. Winning two matches, losing one and just managing to tie the third. But the team raised its game in the semifinal and peaked in the final. Ajit Wadekar was the silent worker behind India's success in the Hero Cup. At the end of the tournament, he was willing to continue as the cricket manager on popular demand from the team. According to him, the victory in the Hero Cup is just the beginning. One could imagine the cricket manager telling his boys "don't relax." He would be back again against the Sri Lankans in January. A bat in one hand and a ball in another, giving catching practice, to improve the only shortcoming in the Indian team – fielding.

Scorecard

India: M. Prabhakar c Adams b Ambrose 11; A. Jadeja c Richardson b W. Benjamin 30; V. Kambli (run out) 68; M. Azhamddin c Adams b Cummins 38; S. Tendulkar (not out) 28; P. Amre Ibw b Cummins 0; Kapil Dev c Hooper b Cummins 24; V. Yadav b Ambrose 3; A. Kumble (not out) 5; Extras (b-2, Ib-12, nb-2, w-2) 18; Total (for seven wkts. in 50 overs) 225.

Fall of wickets: 1-25, 2-81, 3-161, 4-161,5-161,6-207,7-218.

West Indies bowling: Ambrose 10-1-35-2; K. Benjamin 10-1-35-0; W. Benjamin 10-1-47-1; Cummins 10-1-38-3; Hooper 8-0-42-0; Simmons 2-0-14-0.

West Indies: B. Lara b Tendulkar 33; P. Simmons b Prabhakar 0; R. Richardson c ; b Kapil Dev 18; K. Arthurton Ibw b Kapil Dev 5; C. Hooper Ibw b Kumble 23; R. Holder b Kumble 15; J. Adams c Azharuddin b Kumble 4; A. Cummins b Kumble 1; W. Benjamin b Kumble 3; C. Ambrose b Kumble 0; K. Benjamin (not out) 0; Extras (lb-12, nb-1, wl-8) 21; Total (in 40.1 overs) 123.

Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-57, 3-63,4-63, 5-101,6-113,7-118,8-122,9-122.

India bowling: Prabhakar 6-0-21-1; Srinath 6-0-12-0; Jadeja 1-0-18-0; Kapil Dev 10-3-18-2; Tendulkar 7-1-24-1; Kumble 6.1-2-12-6: Raiu 4-0-6-0.

 

(The report was first published in The Sportstar issue dated Dec 11, 1993. )