Then came what was expected to be the vital game of the group. The upshot was that it ended in an eight-wicket victory for New Zealand with three overs to spare. The Indian batting never really got off the ground and a total of 182 all out in 55.5 overs meant that the bowlers faced an uphill task. Gavaskar top-scored with 55, but took 144 balls to compile that score. The only partnership of note was 51 for the fourth wicket between Gavaskar and Brijesh Patel (38).
To the credit of the bowlers, all of them - Kapil Dev, Ghavri, Bedi, Amarnath and skipper Venkatraghavan - tried their best, but an opening stand of 100 runs between John Wright (48) and Bruce Edgar (84 not out) put paid to their hopes of pulling off a surprise and India’s challenge ended prematurely.
Despite these reverses and the disappointment of being out of the competition, it was taken for granted that India would be too strong for Sri Lanka then only an associate member. Put in to bat Sri Lanka did well by getting 238 for five in 60 overs. A second wicket stand of 96 runs between Siddath Wettimunny (67) and Roy Dias (50) provided the springboard and then Duleep Mendis came up with a bright 64 off 57 balls with three sixes and a four to give the necessary impetus.
Still, Sri Lanka’s main strength was the batting not the bowling and India was given every chance of overhauling the target. But in a shoddy batting display, India were all out for 191 in the 55th over to go down to a shock defeat - easily the biggest upset in the World Cup till then for never before had an associate member defeated a Test-playing nation. That Dilip Vengarkar’s 36 was the top score clearly illustrates the sorry tale and the Indians just could not build on an opening stand of 60 between Gavaskar (26) and Anshuman Gaekwad (33).
India had the mortification of finishing at the bottom of the points table in the group with zero points. Canada, similarly, ended up with three losses and no points in the other group underscoring India’s humiliation.