Love for the game was transmitted to Mohinder Amarnath by his legendary father, Lala Amarnath, who insisted cricket was a “tough” vocation and had to be played “hard.”
Mohinder played it tough and hard but was remarkably calm and composed on the field. Not the one to allow emotions influence his approach, he often gave expression to his romance with cricket by performing consistently against strong opponents. It was his way of playing the game.
Like the occasion when he crafted a Test century in Karachi to force a draw by vowing not to allow a ball to hit the pads. Or the comeback in a Test in West Indies when, hit on the mouth by Malcolm Marshall, he spent a night recuperating in the hospital, and hooked the first ball on return to the crease from the same bowler for a six. It was his way of batting.
Mohinder was a key component of the 1983 triumph in England. His batting and bowling gave him the status of an all-rounder and he did not fail the team by emerging the ‘Man-of-the-Match’ in the semifinal and the final. Typically, he has always played down his success.
“It was a team effort. Individuals did not matter. Remember, it was the team that won and not Mohinder Amarnath,” he talks fondly of the phase that changed the course of international limited-over cricket. West Indies, invincible until then, did not even enter the final at any of the subsequent editions of the World Cup.
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Every four years, Mohinder is reminded of the eventful day at Lord’s when he claimed the wickets of Jeff Dujon, Malcolm Marshall and Michael Holding. In the semifinal, he had snared David Gower and Mike Gatting with late seaming deliveries.
The left-handed Gower followed the ball into the ’keeper’s gloves and Gatting was stunned by one that came in. “More than Gower’s, I loved Gatting’s dismissal. I set him up for that,” recalled Mohinder.
Reiterating that India’s 1983 campaign was based on team effort, Amarnath remarked, “If you look at that tournament, we had a man to meet the challenge in every match. It was not restricted to one individual. Each victory was built on the belief that we were a team to counter the best. We had individuals who transformed into a splendid team as the World Cup progressed.”
He was among the privileged to witness the epic knock by Kapil Dev. “That was one-in-a-lifetime knock. It is vivid. We still talk about it when we meet. A pity it can only be relived through our accounts since there is no recording of that match. But I don’t get tired talking of that innings. Any batsman would want to play one such innings in his life.”
Playing conditions were critical too. “There was something for the bowlers and I feel it would be same this time too. We have a compact side and there is bite in the attack. But it has to be a team effort.”
He will be in the stands to cheer Virat Kohli’s team and also reminiscence the wonderful summer of 1983.
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