It all began in Berbice

SANJAY RAJAN

Balwinder Sandhu hoodwinks Gordon Greenidge with a superb inswinger. This early wicket was a portent of things to come.-THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

A NUMBER of factors went into India's sensational triumph in the Prudential World Cup of 1983 in England. Considered novices in the abridged version of the game until then, behind India's unprecedented success was the choice of talent picked with an eye on fulfilling the requirements of one-day cricket, and the fruition of it.

The accent of the Indian bowling was on mediumpace and the combination buttressed the batting too, as there emerged depth in batting. Almost seven in the XI were all-rounders, each capable of scoring 40-plus.

The major Caribbean tour that the side underwent prior to the third World Cup saw Kapil Dev and his boys one of the better prepared sides for the competition. Handling pace bowling day in and day out in the West Indies had honed its batting skills so thoroughly that all other attacks in the Cup were easily playable. So much so that even Bob Willis looked yards slower, and this was the key to India's convincing win over England in the semifinals.

It was on the '83 tour of the West Indies, at Berbice (Guyana) to be precise, that India defeated the Caribbeans for the first time in a one-day game. It all began there actually, and the two victories over Clive Lloyd's side in the Cup, one of which was the final, was just a continuation, so many felt.

The West Indies, on a hat-trick, looked the better of the two sides. It possessed a fiery pace attack and the bowlers had shed the erratic manner in which they operated in the opening contest against India, which the team lost.

On the eve of the final, Lloyd was still undecided as to who the fourth quickie would be after Roberts, Marshall and Holding. Garner, who had a big hand in the '79 triumph, or Winston Davis? It was the `Big Bird' who got the nod to share the new ball with Roberts for his ability to gain that extra bounce.

Viv Richards was in form. He got going in the second group engagement against India, which West Indies won handsomely, and the Master Blaster had made a majestic undefeated 80 in the semifinals against Pakistan. The Indians sure had to watch out for him.

India had come this far solely on team effort, save Kapil Dev's heroics against Zimbabwe. The side believed intently that on its day, with each chipping in his bit, it was capable of dislodging anyone. This, in short, was the relative strength of the teams as they met on that historic day _ 25th of June _ at Lord's. In what was a bright but pleasantly cool day, India proved it was capable of holding its nerves together when it mattered.

Defending 183 successfully is no mean achievement, especially against a side as mighty as Lloyd's boys. But then, as they say, the unexpected does happen. And this was one of them.

Sunil Gavaskar, who had a wretched time with the bat, has got an edge to this one from Andy Roberts. The Indian opener made only two runs.-THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

Kapil Dev's astute captaincy, his bowling changes while alternating between attack and defence, triggered off West Indies' collapse while mediumpacers Madan Lal and Mohinder Amarnath responded to the skipper's call with some tight bowling. The technically sound Greenidge was out early, bowled by a Balwinder Sandhu banana in-swinger. But Richards brushed aside the early dismissal in his inimitable manner. He struck Sandhu and Kapil for two boundaries each and then majestically swat Madan Lal for three fours in one over to disperse what till then was an attacking field.

West Indies lost opener Des Haynes at the score of 50, caught in the covers while driving Madan Lal a touch too early. But none could breathe easy as long as Richards was around. But in his very next over, Madan Lal lured the Master into an indiscreet stroke. Richards, a little hesitant in his stroke selection this time around, went well forward, though in an unbalanced way, and then tried rocking back to pull. The mis-hit flew far and high. Kapil Dev, in a display of rare athleticism, sprinted from mid-wicket, running with his back to the pitch for a good 15 yards, to bring off an amazing catch. It was truly the turning point.

Madan Lal gained considerable nip, movement and bounce and was proving to be a thorn in West Indies' flesh. He soon had Larry Gomes edging his intended cut to Gavaskar at slip, and at 66 for four the pressure was building on the defending champion.

Soon enough, Roger Binny had Lloyd, batting with a runner owing to a groin strain, stretching out to drive at a widish delivery uppishly to Kapil at extra-cover. This meant that the threatening top half had been packed off for just 66!

Sandhu had Bacchus edging behind while trying to cut the bowler and then Amarnath, with his gentle but deadly effective mediumpacers, accounted for Dujon, Marshall and Holding to sound Windies' death knell. This after Dujon and Marshall had put on a threatening 43-run stand. The side was bowled out for 140; Amarnath was adjudged Man of the Final for his all-round performance in this low-scoring encounter.

Actually, it was Amarnath who helped restructure the Indian innings after the dismissal of the enigmatic opener Krish Srikkanth, who made a sparkling 38. The Tamil Nadu batsman took it upon himself to set the pace after Lloyd put India in while his fearsome speedsters made the most of a fresh wicket that afforded both seam movement and bounce.

Gavaskar was dismissed early. Srikkanth's innings stood out for its brilliant stroke-play. His pulls, one to the boundary and the other over it, off Roberts were authoritative. So were his square drives off Garner. He had had only 12 scoring strokes, including a six and seven fours, in his 57-ball effort before Marshall nipped one back off the seam to square him up and claim him leg-before.

Amarnath played a solid innings, displaying caution and aggression (he hooked Marshall to the fence), and helped take the score to 90 before Holding, bowling off a shorter run-up, beat his defence comprehensively with a vicious in-cutter. It triggered off a collapse, in which five wickets were lost in the space of 37 deliveries. Yashal Sharma and Kapil Dev fell to indiscreet shots at off-spinner Gomes, as did Kirti Azad and Roger Binny at Roberts. And at seven for 130, the cracks were clear and growing.

Sandeep Patil came up with 27, including a six off Gomes, before his mis-timed pull-drive off Garner found Gomes at mid-off. It was clear then that India was heading for an inadequate score.

Mohinder Amarnath looks back to see a stump cartwheeling, courtesy Michael Holding.-THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

Thereafter, Marshall returned to beat Madan Lal with sheer pace. Kirmani and Sandhu made 22 vital runs for the last wicket. At that point none gave India even an outside chance. But then, for a side that had won just one match in the two previous Cup editions, having come this far was in itself an achievement. It had nothing to lose and so battled on.

And who, just who, can forget Kapil's memorable little speech in the dressing room after India had been bowled out. "We've come this far, let's try harder and give it our best shot." It is indeed one of India's finests moments in the international sporting arena.

The scores:

India: S.M. Gavaskar c Dujon b Roberts 2, K. Srikkanth lbw b Marshall 38, M. Amarnath b Holding 26, Yashpal Sharma c (sub Logie) b Gomes 11, S.M. Patil c Gomes b Garner 27, Kapil Dev c Holding b Gomes 15, Kirti Azad c Garner b Roberts 0, R. Binny c Garner b Roberts 2, Madan Lal b Marshall 17, S.M.H. Kirmani b Holding 14, B.S. Sandhu (not out) 11; Extras (b-5, lb-5, w-9, nb-1) 20. Total (in 54.4 overs) 183.

Fall of wickets: 1-2, 2-59, 3-90, 4-92, 5-110, 6-111, 7-130, 8-153, 9-161.

West Indies bowling: Roberts 10-3-32-3, Garner 12-4-24-1, Marshall 11-1-24-2, Holding 9.4-2-26-2, Gomes 11-1-49-2, Richards 1-0-8-0.

West Indies: C.G. Greenidge b Sandhu 1, D.L. Haynes c Binny b Madan Lal 13, I.V.A. Richards c Kapil Dev b Madan Lal 33, C.H. Lloyd c Kapil Dev b Binny 8, L.A. Gomes c Gavaskar b Madan Lal 5, S.F.A. Bacchus c Kirmani b Sandhu 8, P.J. Dujon b Amarnath 25, M.D. Marshall c Gavaskar b Amarnath 18, A.M.E. Roberts lbw b Kapil Dev 4, J. Garner (not out) 5, M.A. Holding lbw b Amarnath 6. Extras (lb-4, w-10) 14. Total (in 52 overs) 140.

Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-50, 3-57, 4-66, 5-66, 6-76, 7-119, 8-124, 9-126.

India bowling: Kapil Dev 11-4-21-1, Sandhu 9-1-32-2, Madan Lal 12-2-31-3, Binny 10-1-23-1, Amarnath 7-0-12-3, Azad 3-0-7-0.