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Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - The ultimate underdog story - India stun West Indies to win 1983 World Cup

India's Kapil Dev
©Reuters

June 25, 1983 - India had arrived in England with no backers. They had won only one game in the history of the tournament, that too against East Africa and were not expected to fare any better this time around.

 
The King had been smashing the Indian bowling to all parts of Lord's. An attempted bouncer from Balwinder Singh Sandhu was hooked for four. Kapil Dev tried to pitch it up, searching for the swing. The first was driven through the off side. The next was flicked through square leg.

Viv Richards dealt Madan Lal with the most disdain. At 57/2, Richards had raced to 33 off just 27 deliveries at a strike rate of 117.86. This may not seem that daunting now, but to put things in perspective, runs were scored at just 50.46 in the 1983 World Cup final.

West Indies were chasing just 184 and the game would have been done for all money had Richards' innings lasted a bit longer. Perhaps, this is the reason why Sunil Gavaskar's wife Marshneil Gavaskar told Sandeep Patil, who was fielding at the boundary, to convey a message to her husband: meet me at the station in half an hour to go shopping.

The Indians were staring at an anticipated defeat. This is when perhaps the most iconic moment in Indian cricket history arrived. Madan Lal attempted a short-pitched delivery which Richards swivelled and pulled. He did not make perfect contact but there was acres of open space on the leg side and the ball would probably trickle over the boundary.

The camera then turned to the Indian skipper Kapil Dev, originally stationed at mid-wicket, running fiercely. Kapil covered an unbelievable distance in quick time and just about made it to stretch his hands as the ball fell into them. The score was now 57/3 and with West Indies captain Clive Lloyd using a runner due to a strained groin, India were in with a shout.

India had arrived in England with no backers. They had won only one game in the history of the tournament, that too against East Africa and were not expected to fare any better this time around.

 

 

In fact, as Kris Srikkanth, member of the '83 winning team, says in jest, his tickets were done from India to New York, with a stopover in London. The newly-wed had planned a belated honeymoon after what was expected to be a short stay in England. The way India lost the practice matches, it only validated their odds of 66 to 1 to win the trophy.

Furthermore, when faced with the formidable quartet of Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshall and Michael Holding, India, who had beaten West Indies in the group stage, did not have many answers.

Opener Sunil Gavaskar perished for just 2. Kris Srikkanth then counter attacked with few memorable boundaries. However, after he was dismissed for 38, his strike rate read just 66.67. For those who watched the match, the number belied the nature of the innings, which turned out to be the highest of the match.

26 from Mohinder Amarnath and 27 from Sandeep Patil provided India stability for a few overs before the lower middle order collapsed. Had it not been for the the 42 runs added by India's last three batsmen, their total of 183 would have looked even worse.

Jeff Dujon and Malcolm Marshall tried to consolidate by adding 43 runs as the match began to take another turn. This is when Mohinder Amarnath arrived in his languid style and removed both of them. For his 17 wickets from 8 matches, Amarnath was awarded the Man of the tournament to go along with his Man of the Match award. Fittingly, it was he who removed last West Indian batsman Michael Holding and then rushed to the pavilion, with fans dashing onto the Lord's pitch.

The unthinkable had happened. The underdogs had turned victors. And no, Gavaskar did not end up at the station in half an hour. Instead, he along with the other members of the squad, were given a thunderous welcome when they arrived back in India as the world champions.

 

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