India at Cricket World cup – Part 1The underdogs become champions –1983

India at Cricket World cup – Part 1

The underdogs become champions –1983


Ever since India won the 1983 cricket world cup under Kapil Dev's captaincy, the whole nation has been caught up with cricket fever. That 83 World Cup is a fairytale by itself. India entered the tournament as underdogs and weren't expected to reach the final, let alone winning it. Because India have played 6 matches – 3 each – at previous two World Cups and won only one match. That win came against East Africa. But someone must have sensed a phenomenon that is coming.

In 1983 World Cup, England, New Zealand, Pakistan and Sri Lanka were pooled in ‘Group A’ while West Indies, Australia, India and Zimbabwe were pooled in Group B. For India, it was a tough ask. West Indies were defending Champions and Australia were Runners at 1975 World Cup.

The opening day had seen two upsets. While Zimbabwe have beaten Australia, India have got the better of West Indies. Having been sent in to bat after losing the toss, India have posted 262/8, Yashpal Sharma constructed an innings by scoring 89 while others chipped in with minor contributions. In reply, West Indies were bowled out for 228, in fact they were 157/9, with Roger Binny (Yes, Stuart Binny’s Father) and Ravi Shastri taking 3 wickets each. Roger Binny went on to become the leading wicket taker of that tournament. And this loss is the first defeat for West Indies at World Cups. They were undefeated in previous two editions.

Though India have beaten Zimbabwe by 5 wickets in the next match, they lost the next two matches thereafter. India lost to Australia by 162 runs and to West Indies by 66 runs. And before they faced Zimbabwe in their next group match, the group standings were this,

So, if India lose their next match against Zimbabwe, not only that it brings Zimbabwe with equal points as India and Australia, but also means that they must beat Australia in their next match and should hope that Zimbabwe loses their next match against West Indies. It was a precarious situation.


18th June 1983, Saturday. India vs Zimbabwe. Nevill Ground, Tunbridge Wells, England.

India elected to bat and were reeling at 17/5 before long. Rawson and Curran ripped through India’s top order and both openers, Gavaskar and Srikkanth, went down without scoring. Coming in at 9/4, Kapil Dev produced the innings of his life. A scintillating knock of 175 off 138 balls including 16 fours and 6 sixes. He repaired the innings with Binny, but soon Binny and Shastri fell to leave India 7 down for 78. Then Kapil Dev forged two partnerships, 62 runs for 8th wicket with Madan Lal and an unbeaten 126 run partnership with Kirmani for the 9th wicket which was a world record for 9th wicket that stood for 27 years. India ended up with 266/8 in 60overs and Kapil Dev remained unbeaten on 175. It was his first and only ODI hundred. It was also the first ODI hundred by an Indian. It was the highest individual score in ODIs at that time. Sad that BBC was on strike that day and the match wasn't televised. Only those few thousands of people at the venue have witnessed the brilliance. Even by today's fast-track batting standards, an unbeaten 175 when the team was 17/5 is epic. In reply, Zimbabwe were confident of reaching the target with pitch holding good for the batting. But they never managed to form significant partnerships and were bowled out for 235, which meant that a heroic innings went for a winning cause. And till date, it was the only international cricket match played at Nevill Ground.

India thrashed Australia by 188 runs in their last group match to enter Semi Finals. In Semis, they restricted England to a below par total of 213 by clinical bowling performance and achieved the target comfortably with 6 wickets in hand to reach the final.

On the other hand, barring their first match defeat against India, West Indies galloped their way towards the Final without losing another match. It was scary the way they reached the final. Probably angered by their loss to India, they bludgeoned everyone on their way to the Final. It goes like this,

Beaten Australia by 101 runs,

Beaten Zimbabwe by 8 wickets,

Beaten India by 66 runs,

Beaten Australia by 7 wickets,

Beaten Zimbabwe by 10 wickets,

Beaten Pakistan by 8 wickets in the Semi Finals.


25th June 1983, Saturday. India vs West Indies. Lord’s, England.

With the momentum on their side, captained by Clive Lloyd, featuring Haynes & Greenidge as openers, Viv Richards at number 3 and the most famous pace bowling quartet, Roberts, Garner, Marshall & Holdings in their ranks, West Indies were expected to stroll towards victory. It should be a walk in the park. Hell yeah...!

They did just that. The fast men relentlessly attacked Indian batsmen and never allowed anyone to settle. The highest score was 38 by Srikkanth and no one else reached 30. From 130/7, the last three wickets somehow managed to add 53 runs and India were all out for 183. From here, Windies winning the World Cup should be a formality.

But No… India produced a stunning combined bowling and fielding display to stun the reigning champions. It has been said that West Indies have been casual. And a bit over confident. Gordon Greenidge, who believes that ‘the best way to defend is to attack’ and lives by that word, shouldered his arms to a Balwinder Sandhu's inswinger and was bowled. That ball became an identity for Sandhu and the mere mention of Balwinder Sandhu’s name would evoke memories of that inswinger. In comes Viv Richards. And he comes in beast mode. With a flurry of boundaries, he attacked the Indian bowling attack and kept the scoreboard racing. The wicket of Haynes didn’t bother him. Casually chewing on his gum, he scored 7 boundaries and looked like taking the game away from India singlehandedly. Then came one of the most significant moments in Indian Cricket history.

Madan Lal bowled a short ball on off stump without any menace and King Viv pulled it. With the pace Madan Lal bowled, Richards could take his stance, watch the ball coming from bowler’s arm, could blow a bubble of his chewing gum, swallow it back and could hit the ball over the fence anywhere, ranging from deep square leg to deep midwicket. Such was his grace and mastery at batting. But he top edged it. The ball went high up in the air towards deep midwicket. It came down swirling and with the flow Richards was batting or the sheer intent with which he was attacking, the ball could have crash landed into the crowd for a Six or into the grass for a one bounce Four. But it came down 15yards away from the boundary. Kapil Dev, running from midwicket to deep midwicket boundary, watched the ball like a tiger about to hunt, ran towards it as though his life depended on it, covered 20yards and watching the ball over his shoulder, he pouched it with both hands with ridiculously stunning calmness and kept jogging like a 100m sprinter would do after reaching the finish line. The crowd went berserk and half a dozen spectators ran towards Kapil Dev and one of them hugged him from behind. Kapil Dev evaded all of them as if fearing someone would steal his precious prize and jogged towards his teammates and celebrated with them. West Indies were stunned, India were pumped, and the cricketing world was thrilled. For the 11 men on the field, any tiniest remaining doubts of self-belief were shelled, and they started marching towards Championship. West Indies were soon in complete disarray and were reduced to 76/6. The resistance from Dujon and Marshall only delayed the triumph of a gang of self-believers and final moment arrived when Amarnath trapped Holding in front.

The players became national heroes and a whole country celebrated like there’s no tomorrow. India became hosts for the next World Cup and many bought television sets just to watch Cricket. Those memories of 83 were etched into cricketing folklore and the stories were told and re-told a million times.


Coming Up…

  • India at Cricket World cup – Part 2 – The wait for 28 years

  • India at Cricket World cup – Part 3 – Triumph and Glory – A fitting tribute to the most worshipped Cricketer

  • South Africa’s World Cup dream

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