Sunny's stormtroopers

SANJAY RAJAN

IN professional sport, at times staying up there can be a lot tougher than getting there.

That was precisely what India did Down Under in 1985, when it reasserted its World champion status by winning the B&H World Championship of Cricket.

-ALLSPORT

This could probably be the reason why Sunil Gavaskar's squad (it was Sunny's last match as captain) was chosen as Indian Cricket's Team of the Century ahead of some great sides, including the one that fashioned the Prudential World Cup triumph of '83. In '83, Kapil's Devils achieved the incredible, but as dark horses. In '85, Sunny & Co. did it as world champions, out to prove to the world that the triumph of two years ago was no fluke.

And what a winning streak it turned out to be! Five on the trot, twice over Pakistan, including the final at the MCG on March 10, in the tournament featuring the seven Test-playing nations.

All this, after India had lost 13 out of 18 limited-overs internationals since the triumph over the West Indies at Lord's in 1983!

It was a well-balanced side, with the dazzling Krish Srikkanth and the all-weather Ravi Shastri (adjudged Man of the Series) at the top of the order. The middle-order was formidable, boasting the likes of Md. Azharuddin, Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar and 'Jimmy' Amarnath. Kapil Dev and Chetan Sharma shared the new ball, then there was Madan Lal and, of course, Jimmy. Leggie Laxman Sivaramakrishnan combined well with Shastri, who posed many a problem with his left-arm spin. Backing them all, vocally as well as behind the stumps, was that amazingly talented Sadanand Vishwanath. The crux of the '83 team was there. The depth in batting was the big plus.

Srikkanth and Shastri were involved in two century-plus partnerships, the second being the 103-run stand in the final which reduced the contest to a one-sided affair after Pakistan was restricted to 176 for nine. Kapil and Sivaramakrishnan took three wickets each.

En route to the final, India put it across the likes of England (by 86 runs at Sydney), Australia (by eight wickets in Melbourne) and New Zealand in the semifinals (by seven wickets at Sydney), all with consummate ease.

The team: Sunil Gavaskar (Capt.), M. Amarnath, M.A. Azharuddin, R.M.H. Binny, Kapil Dev, Madan Lal, M. Prabhakar, A.O. Malhotra, R.J. Shastri, L. Sivaramakrishnan, K. Srikkanth, S. Vishwanath, D.B. Vengsarkar and Chetan Sharma. Manager: E.A.S. Prasanna.