On this day: Ravi Shastri crowned 'Champion of Champions'

The scenario at Bombay's Navjivan Society, Mahim, just after dawn on March 16, only reflected the close bond toward a youth who left for the antipode on February 13 as Ravishankar Jaydith Shastri and returned home as "Champion of Champions" of the cricket world.

The "Ravi Shastri welcome" was planned by his friends and admirers on March 10 when India catapulted itself on top of the world in Melbourne.   -  GETTY IMAGES

In the metropolitan city of Bombay, cricket is not merely a white flannelled game to the millions of its citizens, be they school kids, collegians, housewives, officegoers or labourers. To them, cricket is a passion and significantly it has its own "inimitable lingo" to bring the cricketers and aficionados closer.

When an unknown hits the headlines it intrigues the keen observer and when he becomes familiar they know each and every detail of the player. And by the time he achieves stardom it climaxes the infectious passion.

So the scenario at Bombay's Navjivan Society, Mahim, just after dawn on March 16, only reflected the close bond toward a youth who left for the antipode on February 13 as Ravishankar Jaydith Shastri and returned home as "Champion of Champions" of the cricket world.

A surprise

When utter confusion prevailed at the Sahar international airport when the sports writers and lensmen were prevented from meeting the members of the Indian team on their arrival, about 15 kms away from the airport, the residents of Navjivan Society, Mahim, were in a deep trance.

But they were just waiting to bat their eyelids and put their legs to work as soon as the jeeps honked to herald the arrival of the Champion of Champions.

Perhaps Ravi Shastri had an instinct of what was in store for him and so he was well prepared for it. And when he entered the residential quarters at 2-30 a.m. the jeeps blared their horns, the tube lights and the fluorescent bulbs flashed to greet the Melbourne hero.

One and all at Navjivan converged on outside Shastri's building and were in an exalted mood.

Dancing with fisherfolk

The "Ravi Shastri welcome" was planned by his friends and admirers on March 10 when India catapulted itself on top of the world in Melbourne. The "Champion of Champions" banners were hung all around the colony and a huge banner, with colour bulbs around it, read "Well done Ravi", we are proud of you."

From the adjacent Moree Road came the fisherfolk, dancing their way accompanied by some  percussion instruments and Shastri joined them for a while. After a long flight from Singapore, Shastri looked weary but he met everyone of his friends calling them by their pet names.

About his splendid showing in Australia, Shastri said "I was not in the Prudential Cup winning Indian XI, so this is some compensation". He denied being nervous in the final while batting and having an eye on the Audi car. "The wicket was a little dicey. The ball had a tendency to rear up dangerously after pitching, I was just careful", Shastri said.

Of course it was a memorable moment for Ravi's parents Dr. Jaydith Shastri and Mrs. Lakshmi Shastri who were there all night long to distribute sweets.

This interview first appeared in The Sportstar dated March 30, 1985.