When the third World Cup started, it was taken for granted that West Indies would be contesting their third straight final. Hardly anyone could have bargained for their opponents being India. And yet 'Kapil's Devils' as they were christened by a suitably impressed British media were in the title clash by right after a record of five wins and two defeats.
They finished second to the West Indies in the group table and then surprised hosts and hot favourites England in the semifinal. Not unexpectedly though, West Indies were expected to take the title for a third straight time. Put in to bat India started shakily losing the out of form Sunil Gavaskar for one.
Kris Srikkanth however took the pace quartet head on with a series of audacious strokes and quickly moved to 38 off 57 balls with a six and seven fours before he was leg before to Marshall at 59 in the 19th over. Mohinder Amarnath and Yashpal Sharma played cautiously and at 90 for two in the 19th over, India seemed headed for a total of respectable proportions.
However the dismissal of both these batsmen just before lunch was a double blow from which the Indians never really recovered. Sandeep Patil with 27 offered some resistance but at 161 for nine in 45 overs, the match as a contest seemed over. Syed Kirmani and Balwinder Sandhu added 22 runs for the last wicket before the innings terminated at 183 in the 55th over.
About the only interest left in the game at this stage was the West Indian margin of victory and in which over that victory would come about. Sandhu gave the Indians a slim hope when Gordon Greenidge shouldered arms and to his horror the ball came in sharply from outside the off stump and disturbed the stumps.
But Vivian Richards launched into a furious counter-attack from the moment he came in. He dominated a second wicket partnership with Desmond Haynes, treating the bowlers with disdain and at 50 for one the West Indies were cantering to victory. And yet in a trice Madan Lal turned the game around giving an unexpected twist to the script.
First he dismissed Haynes and then at 57 Richards swung him high over mid wicket. Kapil Dev running backwards completed a splendidly judged catch - probably the most well known and well publicized catch in the history of Indian cricket. A little later, Madan Lal had Larry Gomes caught at slip and suddenly the Indians were back in the game.
They moved firmly into the favourites circle when Lloyd fell to Binny and Sandhu dismissed Bacchus. At 76 for six there could be no escape route for the West Indies but keeping in mind what had happened at Old Trafford, nothing could be taken for granted. Dujon and Marshall shared a partnership of 43 when Kapil brought on Amarnath. His first ball, a gentle loosener, was edged just as gently on to his stumps by Dujon.
That left West Indies with three wickets standing and needing 65 in 18 overs. But Amarnath was now on a roll. Having won the man of the match award in the semifinal he now proceeded to make it a double. He had Marshall caught at slip and when Kapil removed Roberts the score was 126 for nine. There was no repeat of the heroics at Old Trafford and at 140 Amarnath trapped Holding leg before and India to everyone's astonishment were World Cup winners.