New Delhi: India's World Cup-winning team member Yashpal Sharma feels that the 1983 triumph triggered an unprecedented wave of popularity among the masses that revolutionised cricket in the country.
"When we won the World Cup we did not realise what we had done. For us, it was just beating the invincible West Indies in the final to lift the World Cup. But, now when I look back I think the historic win revolutionised the game in the country," Yashpal told IANS on the eve of the silver jubilee celebration of the historic win.
Yashpal was the second highest run-scorer for India with 240 runs, just behind captain Kapil Dev, who made 303.
Yashpal fondly recalls the moments from the final at Lord's, June 25, where India wrestled down the mighty West Indies. "The turning point in the tournament was beating West Indies in the first round. That gave us the confidence to beat them again. We were one of the weakest teams in the tournament. We thought that if we could beat them once then nothing was impossible for us."
India opened their campaign in the World Cup with a surprise win over the West Indies. And it was Yashpal's crucial 89 that helped India shock the defending champions. "I was under pressure in the first match. I knew that if I fail then I would not get another chance in the coming matches. Even Dilip Vengsarkar sat out in the first match. There was tough competition to get into first eleven," he said.
The 54-year-old veteran cricketer said having toured West Indies just before the World Cup was an advantage for the Indian team. "We defeated West Indies in a one-day at Guyana during that series. That was the first time a team defeated them in a one-day match in their own backyard. So we had some insight into their team," he said.
Yashpal vividly recalled those tense moments at Lords. "We were relaxed when we walked into the ground to save our paltry 183. We thought even if we don't win, we will be the runners-up and that would have been a big achievement for us because nobody gave us a chance to reach the final."
"We had some plans in our mind and wanted to see Gordon Greenidge and Viv Richards back in the pavilion soon. And after Balwinder Singh Sandhu and Madan Lal removed both the batsmen we could sniff victory.''
"When Jimmy (Mohinder Amarnath) ran to deliver the last ball of the 52nd over, I was at square leg and started moving towards the wicket. As soon as the umpire ruled Michael Holding lbw, I picked up a stump and started running towards the dressing room. I felt as if it was one of the longest runs I ever ran," Yashpal said.
Six bottles of champagne were kept in the dressing room to celebrate the win and after all the bottles were over the players used milk kept in bottles for tea as replacement. "We didn't sleep the whole night. The pub was opened and fans gathered and there was bhangra till early morning next day. It was a great feeling.''
"I am looking forward to revive them when all the team members come together and celebrate this win again at the Lords on Wednesday," said Yashpal.