India returns without a win

Sunil Gavaskarskies a ball from Andy Roberts and is caught by Michael Holding during a India-West Indies encounter at Edbagston, Birmingham. The Windies scored an easy nine-wicket win in the Group B game.-PIC: THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

Since the beginning of the 1970s, when India scored overseas Test wins over West Indies and England, the world took note of a cricketing nation, that was finally coming of age.

But the advent of One-day cricket, around the same time when astro-turf was introduced in hockey, pushed India back a little.

The Indians were clearly not comfortable with the format and the urgency that the game demanded. The World Cup debut against England in 1975 ended in a crushing defeat and the triumph over East Africa was hardly anything to get excited about.

In the second edition, India, clubbed with holder West Indies, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, was fancied to win against the last two teams mentioned, for a place in the semifinals.

But India, after being crushed by West Indies, which won with nine wickets to spare, ran into New Zealand and fared marginally better — and lost by eight wickets!

The defeat to Sri Lanka was the last straw. Sri Lanka, one of the two debutants, made it to the Finals through the inaugural ICC Trophy, played among 14 Associate members.

India persisted with Kapil Dev, Karsan Ghavri, Mohinder Amarnath, Bishan Bedi and S. Venkataraghavan against a side still awaiting Test status. Amarnath’s three for 40 was the best by an Indian bowler and the team managed to get only eight wickets in three outings.

Chasing 239 to win, India lost by 47 runs after the first four batsmen — Sunil Gavaskar, Aunshuman Gaekwad, Dilip Vengsarkar and G. R. Visvanath threw away good starts. Once again, India failed to last its quota of overs, getting bowled out in 54.1 overs.

It was clear that the Sri Lankans were far more motivated to perform on the big stage, having qualified along with Canada. India was left licking its wound.

Overall, India never looked like putting any team under pressure at any point. The bowlers failed to strike and the batsmen struggled to survive. These were the days without fielding restrictions, but India could not find a way to put up a better performance.

The short-comings seen in the 1975 edition continued.

The belief that India was the weakest Test playing nation in limited-overs cricket stood reinforced. Given the lack of application of the Indians, no one could have tipped India as the potential champion of 1983!

Canada’s low of 45!

Canada, the underdog in the eight-nation field, was obviously not expected to set the World Cup on fire. Coming through from a 14-nation field in the ICC Trophy, Canada grabbed one of the two qualifying spots.

It started sedately against Pakistan in the opening game and could manage only 139 against a fierce attack.

The eight-wicket loss did not harm Canada’s impression but what followed four days later surely did!

Playing against host England, at Old Trafford, Canada slipped from 25 for two to 45 all out with only F. A. Dennis (21) reaching double-figures. Interestingly, the Canadians batted out 40.3 overs and scored just 40 runs off the bat.

After Ian Botham and Mike Hendrick accounted for the Canadian openers, Chris Old (10-5-8-4) and Bob Willis (10.3-3-11-4) scripted a stunning collapse.

England expectedly won the match with plenty to spare — completing the chase in the 14th over with eight wickets intact.

Canada’s tally stood as a record for the lowest World Cup total until February 19, 2003, when again, it was Canada that re-wrote the dubious feat. Playing against Sri Lanka in Paarl, it was shot out for 36 — just eight days before Namibia scored 45 against Australia.

As a result, Canada retains the record for scoring the least number of runs in a World Cup innings for well over three decades, since 1979.

Thereafter, the team has come up with some very impressive performances in subsequent editions of the competition but has not been able to make any noticeable headway.

Rakesh Rao