The summer of 83

first_imgWhen Kapil Dev and Madan Lal had a brief conversation on the pitch at Lord’s on 25 June 1983, during the World Cup final, little did they know that the result of their deliberations would have a profound effect not just on Indian cricket but on the game globally. Over the next few overs these two men, and their teammates, would help to send cricket into a new era.India had surprised everybody, except perhaps themselves, by reaching the final of the third World Cup, a tournament which, like its two predecessors, was hosted by England. The West Indies had won the 1975 and 1979 World Cups and, having bowled out India for a meagre 183 with more than six overs to spare, were strong favourites to lift the trophy again.The Caribbean bands had been in a celebratory mood since early in the day, and there was no let-up from them as the imperious Viv Richards, with 7 fours in his 33 runs, helped his team past the 50 mark for the loss of only one wicket. As Richards feasted on the Indian bowling, Sandeep Patil shouted out to Gavaskar in Marathi, ‘At least we will have time to go shopping.’ Kapil’s wife, Romi, did indeed leave to do just that.Madan Lal, like the other Indian bowlers, had taken punishment, but he felt the champions, and Richards in particular, had become overconfident. He had already had Desmond Haynes caught and, although he had been made to look as if he was giving Richards batting practice, he sensed a chance for India to change the course of what had been a one-sided final.advertisementKapil, India’s captain, recounted that pivotal moment at a promotional event in Mumbai in 2017. He wanted to change his bowling attack, but he relented when Madan stated his case: Before that particular over, 2 or 3 fours were hit off Madan. So, I went to Madan, asked him to take a break and come back after a few overs. To which Madan said “You give me the ball. I have earlier dismissed Vivian Richards, I can do it once more.” “When a player is so confident, even though I was not too keen, I thought, let him bowl another over.They say, some things just happen for you and this happened with us.” Madan felt Richards was vulnerable and he was right. He delivered a ball with more bounce; an overconfident Richards mistimed his shot and hooked it. Kapil ran backwards. Sitting in the press box, surrounded by English and Australian journalists who had written off India, I held my breath. But while I, and all of India fretted, Kapil was calm. In 2014, talking to me at Lord’s, while India played England in a Test, he recalled, ‘I thought nothing when I took the catch. If I had been thinking I would not have taken the catch. Reflexes take over.’ I could not contain my joy as Kapil took the catch over his shoulder with breathtaking ease. This was the turning point of the match.Madan soon struck again, removing Larry Gomes. Lloyd came and went; from 50 for 1 the West Indies had slid to 76 for 6. The steel bands fell silent. Jeff Dujon and Malcolm Marshall attempted to stem the tide, but Amarnath got them both, and when Kapil trapped Andy Roberts lbw it was 126 for 9. Joel Garner and Michael Holding held out, adding 14, but West Indies were 43 runs short when Amarnath had Holding lbw. India, the team nobody had predicted would do anything in the World Cup, 66-1 no-hopers, had won it. The Indians had gone where Australia and England could not, both of them having been beaten by the West Indies in the two previous finals.The Indians, not expecting to win, had no champagne with which to celebrate. The West Indians were well stocked, and Kapil, having gone to their dressing room to commiserate, saw the bottles stacked and asked Lloyd to give him some so he could toast the victory. It provided a wonderful final touch: beat the opponent and then drink his champagne.Back in India millions watched on television. Among them were four kids who would become the second ‘Fab Four’: Dravid, Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman. For Dravid, then ten, it was the first match he had watched on television and, as he told me, ‘Cricketers of my generation, Sourav, Sachin, Laxman, and Anil, we all grew up with that memory.’ Just as the Oval, 1971, had been a new dawn for my generation, so was Lord’s, 1983, for these young kids. Winning international competitions was no longer a fantasy. As Kapil would say years later, ‘Once we started winning matches, everyone was more motivated and played like leaders. We had a team.’advertisementLondon-based journalist Mihir Bose was the BBC’s first sports editor. He is the recipient of the English Cricket Society Silver Jubilee Literary Award for his work, History of Indian Cricket. In an interview with MAIL TODAY, he recounted some interesting chapters from his new book on Indian cricket. Edited excerpts:You write, The 1983 victory at Lord’s, as we shall see, changed Indian cricket. But the 2007 victory changed not only Indian but world cricket.’ Please elaborate.Dhoni’s Johannesburg miracle of 2007 provided an ideal launch pad for the IPL and that has revolutionised world cricket. April no longer marks the start of the English season, but the start of the IPL and what happens in this great cricket tamasha means a lot more than what is going in often damp, chilly England. In2013, James Astill, political editor of The Economist, even wrote a book on India seeing IPL as providing a window into India. No Englishman would have thought of doing that with the Ranji Trophy or after the triumph of 1983. India is now the centre of world cricket in a way that did not happen after 1983. This revolution has been possible because the India of today is not remotely what the country was like during the previous waves of Indian cricket.Will the ninth wave of Indian cricket, the way you describe it, culminate in Virat Kohli holding aloft the World Cup in England this summer?England start as favourites and Australia are the dark horse. But India could win if they bat well. This was shown in 2018 where they won the first match handsomely but then lost the next two to England to lose the series. The victory at Nottingham, where England a few weeks previously had massacred Australia, was built on good bowling and exceptional batting. I have more confidence in the bowling than the batting. Also, India must not see beating Pakistan as the most important thing in the tournament. In England they can harness the support of Indian fans in the way no Indian team of the past has been able to.Usually players of different generations are tough to compare. In the part about Tendulkar vs Kohli, you say Virat is very unIndian in the way he leads and very Indian in the way he bats. Why?I mean he comes over more like an Australian who is in your face and makes it very clear how he thinks and feels all the time. As I have described in the book twice in the 2018 series against England after scoring hundreds he blew kisses to his wife. I cannot imagine Ajit Wadekar ever doing that. We did not even know what his wife was called, and he would not have thanked her after scoring a hundred. Also I do not ever remember Sachin Tendulkar doing that. Sachin let his bat do the talking. While Kohli’s bat can also make great music he is like a flamboyant conductor who also theatrically concludes a great performance. Tendulkar never did that. He was more in the historic Indian tradition of being very selfeffacing and modest in the public, the Yudhisthira who never paraded the fact that he was the eldest of the Pandavas, letting Arjuna and Bhima take the limelight. It is interesting to note that Tendulkar was never sledged not even by the Australians. The Australians and other cricket players have and will continue to sledge Kohli.advertisementWhat is your take on the IPL’s Mankaded controversy?In the book I mention that when Mankad did it, Bradman saw nothing wrong with it. But Mankad had warned the batsman previously as had Kapil Dev on the South African tour in 1992-93. In this case, Ashwin did not warn Buttler. Also while it is within the laws there is in cricket more than any other game something called the spirit of the game. Worth recalling what Dhoni did when Ian Bell was run out in the Nottingham Test in 2011. Under the laws it was correct but after England captain Andrew Strauss appealed, Dhoni felt that it was in the spirit of the game to withdraw the appeal and let Bell bat on. In my book, I call this Dhoni acting as Mahatma Gandhi. Let us say Ashwin did not act like the Father of the Nation.Also read: Sashay through Sharjahlast_img

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