A team effort

Kapil Dev is congratulated by the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at a reception accorded to the 1983 World Cup winning team in New Delhi.-PICS: THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

In the final, we gave our best and defeated an over-confident West Indies. Honestly, when we won, none of us knew how to react. From rank outsiders we had become the world champion. It took time to sink in. I had a wonderful team and the win was achieved because of all-round contributions. By World Cup-winning skipper Kapil Dev.

What a wonderful time it was for Indian cricket. It was one of the finest cricket tournaments ever and I am not saying that because India won. The format — with each playing the other twice and the idea of a reserve day — brought the best out of all the teams. The icing on the cake was our triumph, and I must say that all of us are still living in that moment — a glorious achievement that gave a new twist to Indian cricket.

West Indies had won the World Cup in 1975 and 1979 and was heavily favoured to complete a hat-trick of titles. We stopped Clive Lloyd’s march with a fascinating win at Lord’s. I still relive that day often, when a packed house witnessed some intriguing and exciting cricket, as every member in the Indian squad contributed towards a fantastic win.

As a team we just wanted to give our best and after reaching the final, we thought, we should make the West Indies earn the title. The spirit was infectious and after Ballu (Balwinder Sandhu) got the wicket of (Gordon) Greenidge, we never eased the pressure. And of course, when Madan (Lal) snared Viv (Richards), I was convinced that it was going to be our day.

At the start of the tournament the West Indies had an awesome combination and England was also a strong contender. Pakistan too was formidable and I reckoned New Zealand and Sri Lanka as the other two dangerous teams.

Indian players celebrate the fall of Larry Gomes in the final.-

Our strength was the splendid mix of youth and experience. We had picked players, who had performed well in the domestic circuit and the emphasis was on collective effort. The batsmen and the bowlers knew their tasks well and we had a fine set of fielders. We knew that runs had to be saved and half chances (in the field) taken to achieve success. We were able to achieve this consistently in the tournament.

Australia and New Zealand were knocked out before the semi-finals and we had an excellent game against England. We beat the host comprehensively and made it to the final, much to the delight of our fans. It seemed unreal that we had a chance to win the Cup, but we, the players, backed our abilities.

In the final, we gave our best and defeated an over-confident West Indies. Honestly, when we won, none of us knew how to react. From rank outsiders we had become the world champion. It took time to sink in.

I had a wonderful team and the win was achieved because of all-round contributions. We played with determination from the first ball of the meet and discovered some superb match-winners on our way to the title.

West Indies may have been the best team on paper, but India had won the Cup. That was the reality and as far as we were concerned it was one of the most memorable days for Indian cricket.

I am happy that we won the title again in 2011 and I hope M. S. Dhoni and his team can retain the Cup in Australia-New Zealand. On behalf of the team of 1983, I wish the team all the best.

— As told to Vijay Lokapally