G. Viswanath Column - The Hindu
‘Kapil’s Devils’ delighted fans with remarkable performances
Mumbai: The florist at the exit of St. John’s Wood, the nearest tube station to the Lord’s Cricket Ground, had no doubt at all. Removing his dark grey felt hat and looking over a London tabloid his countenance reflected a conviction that ‘Big Bertha’ Clive Lloyd would hold aloft the Prudential World Cup for the third time after beating Australia (June 21, 1975) and England (June 23, 1979) in the two previous finals.
It was June 25, 1983. Another Prudential World Cup final and foretelling other than a West Indies win would have galled most. It was another matter altogether that by twilight Kapil Dev’s team had earned the sobriquet ‘Kapil’s Devils’!
But even the partisan Indian preferred to be reticent before the proceedings began. Maybe in his early 60s, the florist took no offence at being interrupted by two Indians asking him, “So who will win the final today.” Chandrashekhar Sant of the Maharashtra Times (Mumbai), politely responded to the florist’s gestures with a ‘Thank you, have a good day’ greetings. Disappointment
There was disappointment at not being able to get a better insight into the mood of the Indian camp from Kapil Dev after the team’s last practice session on the eve of the final. “After the match,” a pithy one-liner lingered as one took the short journey from Edgware Road to Lord’s for the final.
It had been a compelling fortnight for the Indian team, discovering its potential after defeating West Indies for the first time in a World Cup match at Old Trafford. The news of Yashpal Sharma’s splendid 89 and India’s 262 over BBC Radio was much more pleasant to hear than actually being present at The Oval to see Alan Lamb’s onslaught on New Zealand’s Martin Snedden.
The Indians were happy to see the seam attack work efficiently against Zimbabwe. Mohinder Amarnath and Sandeep Patil backed up well to make short work of Duncan Fletcher’s team at Grace Road, Leicestershire.
Already India had bettered its World Cup wins in eight years; two in a row in comparison with a solitary victory against East Africa in 1975.Eminently forgettable
Trent Bridge turned out to be lacklustre and eminently forgettable. Trevor Chappell made 110 and Ken Macleay produced a gem of six for 39 before the West Indies took its revenge with Vivian Richards hammering a brilliant 119 at The Oval.
Two defeats on the trot was a definite setback. At five for 17 with Sunil Gavaskar (0), K. Srikkanth (0), M. Amarnath (5), Patil (1) and Yashpal (9) falling to Zimbabwe’s Rawson and Kevin Curran’s opening burst in windy and overcast conditions at the Nevill Cricket Ground, Tunbridge Wells, it seemed an early departure to London.
A lot remained to be bowled though in the 60 over match. As it transpired Kapil Dev went on to make a monumental and unconquered 175 that yet remains India’s piece de resistance performance in World Cup competitions.
That he scored a hundred runs with 16 boundaries and six sixes speaks volumes of the aggression he demonstrated. Rearguard action
With support from Roger Binny and importantly in the end from Madan Lal (102-run stand for the eighth wicket) and Syed Kirmani (batting at No. 10 for an unbroken stand of 86 for the ninth wicket) India batted for 60 overs to recover to 266.
India won the match by 31 runs with the seamers coming into their own and thereafter stormed into the semifinals with a 118-run victory over Australia at Chelmsford with Binny and Madan Lal emerging with supreme performances.
Sandeep Patil’s big blows and smart efforts by Yashpal and Mohinder Amarnath enabled India to score a clear-cut victory against England in the semifinal and paved the way for its first match of the competition at Lord’s.
Srikkanth’s bent-knee off-side shot off Andy Roberts, Balwinder Singh Sandhu’s gem that knocked down the off stump of Gordon Greenidge and Kapil Dev’s super effort to catch the marauding Richards saw India make history.
The florist had shut his shop, but landing at Bombay International Airport three days later Sant’s World Cup post cards to his newspaper had a delightful effect.
Customs Officer Vaidya read the name Chandrashekhar Sant and shouted: “Arey, sagley ithe yaa, aani yaanche dole bagaa,” meaning “all of you come here and look at his eyes, he’s seen India win the World Cup.”