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Total Recall: When India’s 1983 triumph changed course of cricket

Vimal Kumar

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Skipper Kapil Dev played a major role in India's World Cup triumph in 1983.

New Delhi: June 25, 1983 is a red letter day in Indian cricket. Seldom does a sporting triumph captures the imagination of the masses as this tournament did.

Now, with the benefit of hindsight, one can say that the victory not only changed the landscape of the game in India but also in the world. Cricket became truly an “Indian game”.

In a typical David vs. Goliath encounter, India overwhelmed two-time defending champions West Indies in the final.

However, India’s win cannot be shrugged off simply as a fluke since in the very first match of the tournament they had pulverised the mighty Caribbean team, which incidentally was their first loss in three World Cups.

And, to everyone’s disbelief, India once again repeated the result in the all-important final. To put things in perspective, India had shown the glimpses of its intrepidity when they defeated the West Indies just before the World Cup at their own den (that was only the second time when the Caribbean team lost a home ODI).

India’s 1983 World Cup changed the course of the game of cricket in the country.

The 1983 victory heralded an era of boom for professional Indian cricketers! Prior to the World Cup, Indian cricketers used to get around Rs 10,000 for a Test match and two decades later the players would get almost triple the money for a Ranji Trophy game!

Format: The format for the 1983 World Cup was modified for the first time after the previous two editions. Instead of the regular six Test playing nations (England, Australia, West Indies, New Zealand, Pakistan and India), for the first time Sri Lanka too participated as a full member. Zimbabwe was the only non-Test playing nation as the 8th team which were divided into two groups as A and B. For the first time, teams played each other twice in the Group stage to decide the four semifinalists.

India for the first time managed to win four matches in its Group and also made it to the semifinal for the first time. Australia lost four matches (out of 6), a shock defeat to Zimbabwe hurt them the most.

Final: If ever a combined team effort could win a World Cup without a charismatic individual performance, this was the occasion. There was neither a half century from the Indian innings nor were even a 4-wicket haul from the bowlers and yet they won by 43 runs against one of the finest ODI teams of all time. The icing on the cake was the generous contribution from “Mr. Extra’s” – 20 runs!

If Shane Warne’s delivery to Mike Gatting is recognised as the “Ball of the Century” then must not Kapil Dev’s catch in the 1983 final to dismiss Viv Richards be classified as “Catch of the Century” for the sheer impact it had on cricket?

Amarnath’s bowling figures (3/12 in 7 overs) and his valuable 27 runs made him the first player in the World Cup to win back-to-back Man of the Match awards in the semifinal and final (later on he would be joined by Aravinda de Silva in 1996 and Shane Warne in 1999).

An unforgettable hundred: The 1983 triumph and his innings of 175 against Zimbabwe at Tunbridge Wells are often spoken in the same breath. India were reduced to 140/8, after which, Kapil put together 126 runs with Syed Kirmani.

The Indian captain’s colossal innings during crisis came off 138 balls (16 fours, six sixes).

The most successful batsman of the tournament was England’s David Gower (7 matches, 384 runs at an average of 76.80 with a fifty and a ton). Among the top-10 leading run scorers of the tournament, there was only Kapil Dev from the winning side while runners-up West Indies had as many as four players in this list.

Among 25 leading run-getters, except Dev, none had the strike rate of over 100.

Kapil Dev played a memorable century against Zimbabwe at Tunbridge Wells in Sussex.

The most accomplished bowler of the tournament was India’s Roger Binny (8 matches 18 wickets at an average of 18.66 and economy rate of 3.81). Perhaps, it’s fair to say that instead of batsmen, India’s bowlers won the tournament. For the first and the only time in the World Cup, two Indian bowlers featured in top-3 leading wicket-takers!

The “Andre Russell” innings – England’s Graham Dilley played two of the most attacking innings in a space of three days. Dilley’s 14-ball unbeaten 31 against New Zealand was the only innings with a strike rate over 200 (221.42).

He followed it up with another belligerent 29 off just 16 balls (against Sri Lanka) but Sandeep Patil’s unbeaten 51 (32 balls with 8 fours) in the semifinal against one of the better attacks (Bob Willis, Ian Botham, Dilley and Vic Marks) was a powerful knock which among top-4 attacking innings of the tournament.

Demolition of the mighty- India defeating West Indies itself was a classic case of demolition of the mighty. However, Zimbabwe beating the Australians in their first-ever ODI match shocked everyone. (Zimbabwe would win next ODI after 18 losses and almost a decade later).

Best bowling show of the tournament- Six bowlers took five wickets an innings during the tournament and one bowler (Ken Macleay of Australia against India) also got a six wicket haul but it was the West Indian pacer Winston Davis who achieved a rare feat which was never achieved in an ODI match before let alone in the World Cup.

Davis’ bowling figure of 7/51 against Australia in Headingley stood as the best ODI figures for next eight years (Aaqib Javed took 7/37 against India in Sharjah in 1991) and earned him a Hall of Fame among top World Cup performances.

Arrival of a genius – Martin Crowe arrived in this tournament with just six ODIs under his belt but ended as the second most successful Kiwi batsman. Crowe scored 202 runs in six matches and was among top 20 run-getters of the tournament.

India’s Roger Binny (8 matches 18 wickets) was the most successful bowler of the tournament.

Rules– 30 yards away from the stumps; a fielding circle was introduced where four fielders had to be inside all the times. Unlike the previous two editions, bowlers couldn’t get away easily with wides (like Test matches) and liberal use of bouncers.

Startling fact of the tournament – India’s record in ODIs before the World Cup was pathetic as they had played 40 ODIs and lost 28 matches! Not only that, in previous two editions of the World Cup, the best India could manage was to beat a lowly Associate nation like East Africa.

Do you know? Pakistan’s opener Mohsin Khan, it seems, didn’t learn anything from Sunil Gavaskar’s yawning 36 runs in the 1975 World Cup. Like Gavaskar, Khan also failed to distinguish between the two formats as displaying the virtues of Test cricket he scored 70 runs off 176 balls. There were 43 singles in his innings but just one boundary!

Not to be seen again! Delhi’s Sunil Valson is as famous as his illustrious counterparts of the World Cup winning squad. The left-arm pacer didn’t get a single game in the tournament but cruelly he never got a single international game.

Extra cover– During the tournament, India met West Indies thrice and each time Kapil Dev lost the toss.

For the first time, there were neither an Australian nor a West Indian was among the top-5 leading wicket-takers of the tournament.

During this tournament New Zealand’s Martin Snedden became the first bowler to concede more than 100 runs in an ODI. His 12 overs (105 runs) against England remains the most expensive analysis in the history of the World Cups.

Vimal Kumar is the author of Sachin: Cricketer Of The Century and The Cricket Fanatic’s Essential Guide. Vimal has been covering cricket and other sports for nearly two decades which includes Cricket World Cups in West Indies and Australia and the 2016 Rio Olympic