The day India broke Ladbroke’s favourite

Sweet revenge. Mohinder Amarnath (left), Yashpal Sharma (centre) and Balwinder Singh Sandhu celebrate following India's victory against Australia in the `return' league match at Chelmsford. The victory was a morale booster for India, which had earlier lost to the Aussies at Nottingham.-THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY Sweet revenge. Mohinder Amarnath (left), Yashpal Sharma (centre) and Balwinder Singh Sandhu celebrate following India's victory against Australia in the `return' league match at Chelmsford. The victory was a morale booster for India, which had earlier lost to the Aussies at Nottingham.

After dismissing India for a paltry 183, it seemed as though the Caribbean Calypso would be in full blast in London. However, after Viv Richards was ejected from the middle, the West Indian wickets tumbled and the ‘Bhangra’ took the centre stage. By G. Viswanath.

The Lord’s faithful with confirmed seats for the third Prudential World Cup final, and the large Caribbean and Indian diaspora would have far from expected Clive Lloyd’s mighty West Indies to be felled by a minnow at St. John’s Woods’ famous cricket venue on June 25, 1983.

When India — which earned the sobriquet ‘Kapil’s Devils’ for its dream finish on a bright summer day in the third edition of the quadrennial event — stopped West Indies from making it a hat-trick of World Cup wins, the cricket world seemed to have turned upside-down. So exalted was the reputation of Lloyd’s team, which was packed with match-winners in the batting and bowling departments.

The wonderful turn of events for the Indian team through the competition was applauded quite magnanimously by the rest of the cricketing world.

West Indies had put it past Australia in the 1975 final, and four years later had dominated England. And having won 38 of the 52 ODIs it had played (beginning with its first ODI in September 1973) before the start of the 1983 World Cup — the team had also excelled in English conditions, winning 14 of its 16 matches played there — West Indies was the firm favourite to win its third straight World Cup.

After dismissing India for a paltry 183, it seemed as though the Caribbean Calypso would be in full blast in London. However, after Viv Richards was ejected from the middle, the West Indian wickets tumbled and the ‘Bhangra’ took the centre stage.

India began the competition with the belief that Lloyd’s team could be beaten. India’s performances in the two previous editions had been dismal, with just a solitary victory (against East Africa at Headingley in 1975) to its credit. Besides, India had won only 12 of the 40 ODIs it had played before arriving in London for the World Cup.

In this dark scenario, India’s victory against West Indies at Berbice (Guyana) in the last week of March 1983 was the only silver lining. India had lost the three-match series 1-2, but the Berbice victory thrilled the Indians. A heart-warming win that prompted the Australian captain, Kim Hughes, to predict India as the dark horse of the competition.

The architects of India’s victory at Berbice were Sunil Gavaskar (90), Kapil Dev (72), Ravi Shastri and Mohinder Amarnath (30 each) — all of them scored against a West Indies attack comprising Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Malcolm Marshall and Winston Davis. India began its campaign in the World Cup with a 34-run win against West Indies at Old Trafford, where Yashpal Sharma spent a little over two hours to score 89 off 120 balls. West Indies lost wickets at regular intervals (Roger Binny and Ravi Shastri claimed three wickets each) to suffer its first defeat in nine matches in the World Cup.

India next lost to Australia (first match) and the West Indies (return match), but came back strongly with victories against Australia (return match) and then Zimbabwe (return match), riding on the back of Kapil Dev’s unbeaten 175.

After eliminating England, led by Bob Willis, in the semi-finals at The Oval, India dealt the knockout punch to Lloyd’s team, to herald a great triumph. The moment Kapil got under a top-edged heave from Richards off Madan Lal and held the catch, India sensed its chance of upsetting Ladbrokes’ favourite. The sight of the umpire’s finger pointing skyward in response to a leg-before appeal from Amarnath against Michael Holding would remain etched in the memory of those present at Lord’s.