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1983 – Lords of Lord's
By Partab Ramchand
On the eve of the third World Cup in England in 1983, lucrative odds of 66 to one were being offered on India to win the title. This did not seem to be overgenerous for in two competitions India had notched up just one victory and that against East Africa. There was hardly anything to suggest that this campaign would be any different from the previous two World Cups even though the Indians had played a lot more one-day games since 1979. But the results were not encouraging and but a 2-1 series victory at home against England in 1981-82 and a famous win over the West Indies at Berbice in March 1983 the overall balance sheet was still very much in the red.

Then the tournament started and the Indians took little time in making cricket fans all over the world sit up and take notice. In the very first match they shocked the West Indies by 34 runs to hand the two time reigning champions their first defeat in three competitions. Yashpal Sharma got the first of six man of the match awards that the Indians were to get during their campaign for his stroke filled 89. The Indians made it two out of two by beating Zimbabwe but then stumbled losing to Australia and then the return game against West Indies. Their campaign was floundering and an exit at the group stage looked imminent when they were 17 for five against Zimbabwe. Kapil Dev had walked in at nine for four and surveyed the damage as India slid to 78 for seven. This was the signal for the Indian captain to take charge. First with the help of Madan Lal and then Syed Kirmani, he scripted a rescue act without parallel. The spectators at Tunbridge Wells were privileged to watch one of the very great innings as Kapil finished with 175 not out – then the highest score in an ODI – and India ended up with 266 for eight in 60 overs.Read moreread more

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The revival of the campaign was well and truly on. A shell-shocked Zimbabwe, still to recover from Kapil’s blistering knock that included 16 fours and six sixes, were beaten by 31 runs. And the Indians, by now an inspired lot, raised the level of their game in a virtual quarterfinal against Australia. West Indies had already qualified and India now joined them in the semifinals with an emphatic 118-run victory over the Aussies.

By now, India were the most talked about team of the tournament. Their surprise entry into the last four made them the darling of the media which had christened them ``Kapil’s Devils’’. The team had a mix of everything in experience (Gavaskar, Mohinder Amarnath, Dilip Vengsarkar), ebullient stroke players (Srikkanth, Sandip Patil, Yashpal Sharma) and utility cricketers (Roger Binny, Madan Lal, Ravi Shastri) all led by the incomparable Kapil Dev. It was a unit bubbling with enthusiasm and expertise, skill and substance and not one to be taken lightly. Finishing second in group ‘B’ they had to play a confident England side that was brimming with confidence having finished with a record of five wins and one loss and topping group ‘A’. Despite their splendid showing, the Indians were rated as no hopers particularly as they had lost all five matches to them in England.

But again the Indians pulled a rabbit out of the hat. England’s top order batted solidly and at 141 for three they were poised for a big total. Inexplicably they collapsed to 213 all out in 60 overs. The Indians had a glorious opportunity for a crack at the title and did not squander it. A methodical approach at the start by Gavaskar and Srikkanth followed by timely knocks by Amarnath, Yashpal and Patil saw India home with six wickets and 5.2 overs to spare. A great victory meant that the Indians now were only one steep step away from the summit.

Again, the Indians were given little chance despite their victory in the opening game. And the match seemed over at the halfway stage when the Indians were bowled out for 183. Srikkanth top scored with a typically swashbuckling knock of 38 that included seven fours and a six and India seemed to be progressing along the right lines at 90 for two. But the rest of the batting crumbled in the face of the relentless pressure applied by the pace quartet of Holding, Roberts, Garner and Marshall.

And when the West Indies were 50 for one in reply with Vivian Richards in regal form, it seemed only a matter of a couple of hours before Clive Lloyd would be on the podium to receive the Prudential Cup for a third time. Instead there was a sensational collapse. Richards when 33 was out to an outstanding catch by Kapil Dev off Madan Lal and the medium pacer took two more quick wickets. Within next to no time West Indies had slid sharply to 76 for six.

The large Indian contingent at Lord’s barely believing what they were seeing shouted themselves hoarse with excitement. The West Indian tail did offer some resistance but India did not falter. The West Indies were bowled out for 140 and the third World Cup that started with a couple of sensations – Zimbabwe had also stunned Australia – ended in the biggest shock of all. It was a great victory, a notable triumph and a truly meritorious one for not only had India beaten the formidable West Indians not once but twice but they also added strong England for good measure.

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