No Indian fan can forget the sight of Kapil Dev lifting the World Cup trophy at Lord’s after defeating the mighty West Indies. Kapil Dev and his troops, after being considered as underdogs of the tournament, turned the tables and clinched the showpiece event to script history.
However, it wasn’t an easy task for India in the final to topple a dominant West Indies side, especially they bundled out for 183 in the first innings. After being asked to bat first, the Men in Blue failed to post a challenging total on the board and they succumbed to the likes of Sir Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshall and Michael Holding.
No other India batsman apart from Kris Srikkanth reached into his 30s, and the target looked like a cakewalk for the robust West Indies side. However, Kapil Dev had other plans and his pep-talk changed and uplifted the whole team to etched their name into the record books.
Srikkanth, in a recent interview, reminisced the memories of lifting the 1983 World Cup and revealed how skipper Kapil boosted the team’s atmosphere ahead of the second innings.
“With the batting line-up that West Indian had and looking at 183, we thought we had no scope at all,” Srikkanth said. “But Kapil Dev said one thing and he didn’t say we can win but he said – look guys we have got out for 183 and we should give resistance and not give away the match so easily,” he added.
Kapil’s pep-talk eventually paid off as India stunned West Indies and bowled them out for 140 to lift the coveted trophy. Srikkanth even termed it as the turning point for Indian cricket.
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“It was the turning point for Indian cricket and for Indians. At a time when cricket was dominated by West Indies, Australia, New Zealand and others, a total underdog Indians became the world champions,” Srikkanth further said.
“We did not feel that much pressure. Because favourites were West Indies, they were 1975 & 1979 champions, dominating world cricket, so we thought it was a big deal making it to the finals itself,” he concluded.
Roger Binny was the leading wicket-taker of the World Cup with 18 wickets from 8 matches at 18.66 apiece. What stood out was the quality of his dismissals. 14 of his 18 wickets were of the top-middle order (positions 1-6) opposition batsmen which included the wickets of Lloyd (twice), Richards and Border amongst others.
Kapil Dev’s unbeaten 175 off just 138 deliveries against Zimbabwe at Tunbridge Wells (from 9 for 4 which had soon worsened to 17 for 5) was the second most impactful batting performance in India’s ODI history till then (after Rohit Sharma’s world-record 264). He absorbed the pressure of wickets falling around him, resurrected the innings and yet ended scoring at a rate much higher than the match norm. Kapil added 126 with Syed Kirmani – the second-highest partnership for the 9th wicket in ODI history. He scored 65.78% of the total runs scored by India in the match – it remains the second-highest proportion of runs scored by an individual batsman in ODI history after Viv Richards’ 189.
As a player, Kapil did not fail even once in the 8 matches he played in the tournament. He was the fifth-highest run getter and scored at a strike rate of 108.99 – the second-highest (min. 100 runs) of the World Cup after Rod Marsh. He also picked 12 wickets.