As the inaugural World Cup got underway, there were mixed feelings in India. There was apprehension that the Indian team had not yet come to terms with the intricacies of limited overs cricket.
Test cricket was still the name of the game and the fact that the Indians had played just two ODIs - and lost both rather tamely - did not augur well for them.
However, a look at the groupings, and there was optimism that the team would qualify for the semifinals. India were placed alongside England, New Zealand and East Africa in Pool A whereas Pool B was much tougher involving as it did West Indies, Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The crucial game for India would obviously be against New Zealand for it was taken for granted that India didn't have the firepower to overcome England while they would certainly defeat associate member East Africa.
As expected India went down to England in the first match but no one would have bargained for the huge margin of defeat - 202 runs. The bowlers were wayward in allowing England to run up a total of 334 for four in 60 overs with Dennis Amiss top scoring with 137.
The batsmen too did not exactly cover themselves with glory by scoring only 132 runs for three in their 60 overs. The tardy approach was symbolized by Sunil Gavaskar who batted throughout the innings for 36 compiled off 174 balls.
India however bounced back with a ten-wicket victory over East Africa. The highlight was the bowling of Bishen Bedi who had the extraordinary figures of 12-8-6-1 as East Africa were bowled out for 120.
India raced to their target off just 29.5 overs with Gavaskar and Farokh Engineer getting unbeaten half centuries. The latter became the first Indian to win a man of the match award in the World Cup.
The final match in the group thus became a straight quarter final. India led off with 230 for six in 60 overs with Abid Ali (70) being the top scorer. New Zealand's innings was marked by a keen duel between the Indian bowlers and the opener Glenn Turner.
Ultimately the latter, with a tenacious unbeaten 114, carried the day and New Zealand won with four wickets and 1.1 overs to spare to make the semifinals and end a rather disappointing campaign for the Indians.
In Image: Sussex and England fast bowler John Snow in action against India during the first match of the Prudential World Cup at Lord's, London, 7th June 1975. On the left is Indian batsman Sunil Gavaskar. England won the match by 202 runs.
Text: Partab Ramchand
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