Monday, June 23, 2008

June 25, 1983: When India conquered the world (when even wives of the Devils did not keep faith in their husbands)

By John Cheeran
How was the World Cup won by India in 1983?
It seems incredible today to think that a rag tag band of men, with little noteworthy performance in the two previous World Cups, won the supreme championship.
A similar feat was achieved only once in Indian history, and that was in 1947, when Mahatma Gandhi humbled the British Empire through his non-violent methods. Who could have imagined then that Gandhi’s soul force and ahimsa would culminate in freedom for India?
When one thinks of Kapil Dev’s World Cup triumph 25 years since June 25, 1983, Albert Einstein’s words on Gandhi come to mind. Einstein said: "Generations to come, it may be, will scarce believe that such one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth".
The same words could be said about Kapil Dev and his followers in 1983. It was an otherworldly performance, incredible to fathom, how it all came about. If Gandhi had brought sunset finally to the British Empire, Kapil and boys marked the beginning of the end for the West Indian dominance in world cricket through their soul force, and uninhibited cricket.
In the tumult of celebrations of the silver jubilee of India’s World Cup coronation in 1983, we should not forget the fact that since that day in Lord’s the West Indies have not won another World Cup. They have not even reached the finals since then.
And, now to the main question.
How did Kapil and boys conquer the world?
May be it was simply destiny, as Kapil himself likes to put it.
India’s and world’s leading batsman Sunil Gavaskar’s batting average for the 1983 World Cup was 9.83. May be that was a blessing in disguise for the 23-year-old Indian captain Kapil because Gavaskar, in the inaugural World Cup in 1975, had the dodgy distinction of batting through the 60 overs to remain not out on 36.
Kapil was bold in his decision-making and that can be gauged from the fact that the usurper of the throne of Indian captaincy dropped Gavaskar from two group matches. India promptly lost those matches, and may be as a lucky mascot, Kapil decided to pick the Mumbai stalwart for the remaining encounters.
India went into 1983 World Cup as underdogs. But they had given enough indication that they carried the firepower to shock the best in the business as they upset the prevailing world champions West Indies by 27 runs in a one-day international played a few months ago at Berbice, Guyana. Gavaskar top scored for India with 90 and Kapil, with a blazing 72 off 38 balls, had given India a winning total of 282 from 47 overs, a massive score by the 80’s benchmarks.
Not just that.
India again shocked the West Indies in their first group match and the victory in the final was truly a just reward for their grit and nous.
May be the strongest squad in the whole competition was England and the convincing win in the semi-final should have dispelled the notion that India’s show was a mere flash in the pan.
And to consider that India won the World Cup in a truly Gandhian way!
No lap top, no sport psychologist, no coach, no endorsements, no cheer girls.
In fact during the final at Lord’s when the West Indians began to gallop towards the winning target of 183, thanks to Viv Richards' murderous attack on Madan Lal, Romi Dev, Kapil’s wife, left the ground inconsolably to the sanctuary of the hotel room. Madan’s wife soon joined Romi. And Romi would have the courage to confess to Kapil that she missed that emotional moment when her husband lifted the Prudential trophy only after 12 years. A miss of a lifetime!
So, even Kapil’s Devils’ wives had little faith in them. Forget about the nation!
Kapil’s Devils had none of the modern-day accoutrements that are now deemed necessary for a tournament campaign.
Their biggest weapon might have been an uncluttered mind. There was no unbearable burden of expectation on the shoulders of Kapil. Had they lost in the group stage itself, life would have still remained the same for those cricketers.
But India’s World Cup triumph in 1983 shook not just Indian cricket; it began to alter the contours of world cricket. World Cup was taken out of the hallowed territory of imperial England. Word Cup came home to India in 1987.
New winners emerged. Australia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka.
New concepts followed and culminated in Twenty 20.
And only the blind would fail to spot the footmarks of Lalit Modi and the Indian Premier League, leading up to that of Kapil’s Devils victory strides.
Raise a toast to the Class of 1983.

No comments:

John Cheeran at Blogged