A job well done

Kiran More is ecstatic after holding on to a catch to dismiss Zimbabwe’s Ali Shaw.-PICS: THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

The first three World Cups in the British Isles were a grand success and the cricket administrators in India and Pakistan did a wonderful job to continue the tradition. However, the hopes of a home-team title triumph were not fulfilled, with Australia — an underdog at the start of the tournament — winning its first world crown. By Kiran More.

In 1987, the World Cup, for the first time, was held outside England and incidentally it was also my first appearance in the mega event. It was a great honour for India to co-host the tournament with Pakistan. The first three World Cups in the British Isles were a grand success and the cricket administrators in India and Pakistan did a wonderful job to continue the tradition. However, the hopes of a home-team title triumph were not fulfilled, with Australia — an underdog at the start of the tournament — winning its first world crown.

In Allan Border, Australia had an astute leader and the team performed admirably under him.

The Aussies defeated England in the final at an overflowing Eden Gardens in Calcutta. The Australians must have felt at home as spectators in Calcutta vociferously cheered for them. England had beaten India in the semi-final in Bombay, and obviously the cricket crazy nation was in no mood to support its former colonial master. Australia, buoyed by the adulation, won a tight contest.

The tournament was conducted with flawless efficiency, and that to me was the biggest gain from the 1987 edition. India had earlier hosted the Asian Games in 1982 and we, as a nation, showed our competence once again to the world. There were some minor logistical problems — the country did not have multiple airlines like today — but overall there were no major glitches. The professional efforts of the administrators brought in sponsorships and helped the game to flourish further in the country.

It was a windfall for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). India had won the World Cup in 1983 under Kapil Dev’s captaincy and the team was well focussed to defend the title. It was a good mix of youth and experience. But, the home team was under enormous pressure from the very onset of the meet and expectations only increased after each win.

Chetan Sharma bowls against New Zealand in Nagpur during the 1987 World Cup. Sharma picked up a hat-trick in the same match, the first in a World Cup.-

We had a fantastic tournament and reached the semi-finals. Personally, I loved batting with Kapil Dev against New Zealand in Bangalore. Our partnership laid the foundation for a much-needed win. Navjot Singh Sidhu was in the form of his life and scored four half-centuries. Sunil Gavaskar slammed his maiden ODI ton, scoring 103 from 88 balls against New Zealand in Nagpur. Earlier, in the same match, Chetan Sharma picked up the first hat-trick in a World Cup, dismissing Ken Rutherford, Ian Smith and Ewen Chatfield.

The confidence, ahead of the semi-final in Bombay, was high.

But the pressure got to us at the Wankhede Stadium. Graham Gooch hit a hundred but the target of 255 was achievable. The early loss of Gavaskar was a setback but Mohammad Azharuddin and Kapil forged a strong partnership to take the fight to England. However, the lower order collapsed and we lost by 35 runs.

In Lahore, Pakistan lost to Australia by 18 runs. Despite the semi-finals heartbreak, the sub-continent neighbours deserved a pat in the back for a wonderfully staged tournament.

— As told to Vijay Lokapally