25 June 2019, Tuesday marks the 36th anniversary of India’s 1983 World Cup final victory over the then defending Champions West Indies. Under the leadership of Kapil Dev, India became the World Champions for the very first time.
After defeating strong teams like England and Australia, India not only made their way into the finals but also went on to beat two-time champions West Indies in the finals in dramatic style.
India’s final win was not an easy one. West Indies were the favourites to clinch the trophy for the third time in a row. Nobody gave India a chance. Adding to India’s misery, Indian batsmen were all out for just 183 runs in a 60-over match and many fans who had till then backed India, also lost hope of winning the trophy.
However, it was Kapil Dev’s fantastic catch to dismiss Viv Richards that turned out to be the game changer for India. Notably, post the catch, many Indian fans had entered the stadium and some even lifted Kapil on his shoulders while others tried to climb his shoulders!
Post the dismissal of Viv Richards, Indian team and perhaps the fans too were sensing something they had never dared to dream of – a World Cup win.
The batsmen failed
West Indies won the toss in the final at Lord’s and invited the Indian team to bat first. For India, it was Sunil Gavaskar and Krishnamachari Srikkanth who opened the innings. When the scoreboard had just 2 runs against India’s name, Gavaskar departed. This was a massive blow to India’s hopes.
However, Srikkant slowly built his innings on the other end. Srikkant and Mohinder Amarnath together stitched a half-century partnership for the second wicket. However, at 59 runs on the board, Srikkant was dismissed for 38 runs. Notably, this was the highest individual score for India in the match.
However, Amarnath held one end up and lasted 80 deliveries. His slow innings allowed batsmen at the other end to play and score runs. Sandeep Patil (27), Kapil Dev (15) and Madan Lal (17) played good little cameos and helped India cross the 150 run-mark.
However, India could not stitch a big partnership and cross the 200 run-mark. India were also in fact, bowled out much before their 60 overs quota, having bowled out in just 54.4 overs with 183 runs on the board.
Bowlers to the rescue
West Indies needed 184 runs to win in 60 overs. Underdogs India were ruled out by cricket experts and commentators and people deep within knew that Caribbean men would easily be able to lift their third title but it was not to be.
Five runs on the board, India picked up the first wicket. However, after that, Vivian Richards and Desmond Haynes stitched an extremely crucial partnership for West Indies and helped the Windies reach closer to the target.
When everyone was batting at a different strike rate, Vivian Richards was looking dangerous. It seemed that he would finish the match in 30 overs, having hit seven boundaries in his short stay at the crease.
However, just then, Richards hit a Madan Lal delivery in the air and Kapil Dev was underneath the ball. Kapil and everybody following that game of cricket knew that “the catch” was India’s chance to put a foot in the door. Dev’s brilliant display of athleticism and fielding helped India dismiss Richards which led to a rare West Indan batting collapse, courtesy some disciplined bowling from India.
Mohinder Amarnath, after his useful knock with the bat, picked up 3 wickets for just 7 runs at an economy of 1.71 and while Kapil Dev lifted India’s first World Cup at the Lord’s balcony as India bowled out West Indies for just 140 runs, winning by 43 runs, it was Amarnath who was the Player of the match.
India’s next World Cup came only after 28 years in 2011 when MS Dhoni lifted the cup. Interestingly, Dhoni was less than two-years-old when Kapil and team had made India proud.
That win started a new chapter in Indian cricket and inspired many young men and women to take up the sport.
For some, that win feels like yesterday but the Earth has revolved around the sun 36 times ever since.