Playing with one’s idol

Pravin Amre returns to the pavilion after the end of the Indian innings against South Africa in Adelaide, during the 1992 World Cup.-PICS: V. V. KRISHNAN

For the first time coloured clothing was introduced in a World Cup and I really liked the design — the pattern was same for all the teams, there was only a difference in colour. By Pravin Amre.

The 1983 World Cup triumph at Lord’s, for me, is the defining moment in India’s cricket history. I was part of the crowd that celebrated India’s heroic win, near Prakash Hotel at Shivaji Park in Mumbai. I was only 14 then.

The whole country erupted in joy when Kapil Dev lifted the coveted trophy in the Lord’s balcony. Nine years later, I was part of the Indian squad for the 1992 World Cup in Australia and Kapil Dev — my 1983 hero — was still playing. His presence made the tournament extra special for me.

Ahead of the tournament, India had a long tour Down Under, playing five Test matches and a tri-series, also featuring West Indies. We were there for nearly four months. Unfortunately, I failed to break into the playing XI for the Test matches, but my focus, dedication and commitment throughout the tour helped me to secure a berth in the World Cup squad. Ahead of the World Cup, I played in eight matches of the tri-series and despite my best efforts I found the going in the middle tough. Subsequently, I went on to play four more matches in the World Cup.

For the first time coloured clothing was introduced in a World Cup and I really liked the design — the pattern was same for all the teams, there was only a difference in colour.

It was thrilling to hear your national anthem ahead of a game, and I could fathom the emotions an Olympics medal winner goes through when his/her national anthem is played on the podium. The organisers went the extra mile to make the event special and all the members of the participating teams were photographed on the deck of a massive warship in the Sydney harbour.

I was part of the Indian squad for the 1992 World Cup in Australia and Kapil Dev (pic. above) - My 1983 hero - was still playing. His presence made the tournament extra special for me. - AMRE-

We began our campaign against England in Perth and lost a close match by nine runs. Our next game against Sri Lanka, despite the best efforts from the ground staff, was washed out. Rain played a big part in the game against Australia and the “rain rule” had a part to play in our loss. The “rule” helped Pakistan reach the last four and was the main reason behind South Africa’s elimination in the semi-finals against England. Pakistan, which struggled during the group phase, played excellent cricket in the semi-final and final to win the title.

The climate is always charged up for an India-Pakistan game and I was playing against the traditional rival for the first time in Sydney. I remember the team meeting on the eve of the game and the atmosphere in the dressing room was completely different when compared to other games. Fans don’t want you to lose to Pakistan and the players can feel this added pressure. We had the satisfaction of beating Pakistan and the fans, back home, at least had something to cheer for.

I Was playing with a white ball for the first time and I found it easier to negotiate. It was, however, a little difficult to pick during day time and the batsmen needed to concentrate real hard.

The conditions in Dunedin and Wellington were cold and freezing and it was a novel experience playing in such extreme conditions.

— As told to G. Viswanath