Kirti Azad played an important role in the 1983 World Cup when he produced a magical spell of 12-1-28-1 in the semifinal against England. His wicket of Ian Botham hurt England the most.
Here he shares his views on the tournament.
What was the impact of the 1983 World Cup win?
It was huge. India became a cricket powerhouse. We won the Cup at Lord’s and became the hosts for the next edition in 1987. The World Cup travelled outside England for the first time. The world came to accept that India could play good cricket and also become a great host. One of the biggest gains was that it inspired a host of youngsters to play cricket, and Sachin Tendulkar was one of them. The 1983 win changed the way the game was played in India.
What were the strong points of the win?
We came to realise the importance of teamwork. True, individual brilliance counts in cricket, but one of the biggest points we drove home was that 11 players have to come together to pull off miracles. We pulled one off at Lord’s. No one gave us a chance when we landed in England for the Cup. We would have been happy to just qualify because our previous two World Cup appearances were dismal. We learned and improved from every game, and the belief that we belonged to the competition was the driving force for the team.
What was your personal experience once India reached the final?
Honestly, I can’t say it was a dream come true. We had not even dreamed of being in the final. And here we were, conquering the home team in a tense semifinal. It was a tactical contest that we won, and I am glad I played an important role with Jimmy (Amarnath). It was something that just couldn’t be explained. How we shared 24 overs when we were supposed to bowl just six overs each. We stuck to the basics, as England did not look happy at 96 for two at the end of 25 overs. We denied them runs, and that worked well for us.
How did you adapt to the challenge in the semifinal?
The pitch lacked pace and bounce, and it really suited me. I tested myself by bowling the first over at a faster pace, but soon realised it wouldn’t work. I thought it was better to bowl slower and put the onus on the batsmen to take chances. The batsmen always struggle when the ball doesn’t come on nicely. Ian Botham got out to a ball, which stayed low. It was planned.
What would you like the Indian team to remember at the 2023 World Cup?
Back yourself like we did in 1983. They have some great examples of how the team excelled with a collective effort. Our 1983 win laid the foundation for successes in later years, like the World Championship of Cricket in 1985 and the 2011 World Cup at home. We enjoyed the game in 1983 and did not take undue pressure. I am sure we have the potential to repeat 1983 and 2011.
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