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1983 – The Road of Kapil’s Devils to a World Cup
No! I will not bore you with the story that every child in India can tell you. I want to reflect a little on Indian cricket’s true success. I watched an interview of Imran Khan recently and he said that India’s victory in 1983 was better than his team’s (Pakistan) victory in 1992 in Australia. The simple reason he gave was that the quality of the opposition in 1983 was high. This Khan is not a man who will appreciate India’s success easily. This should give you an idea of the magnitude of the gain. And how important this man Kapildev was to Indian cricket!
The way Indian cricket has evolved since the British Raj will give you an idea that they were calm players who played on solid wickets against strong and ruthless opponents. India’s test record in independence is bad and I believe they played not to win but not to lose badly. I think the legendary Pataudi Jr was the first captain who instilled a fighting spirit in the team and a will to win. Not to say that there were no aggressive players in the Indian team. In fact, India’s first captain was CK Naidu who was a big man and a great batsman. He destroyed the MCC team in an innings of 153 in 2 hours which people still remember. He hit 11 sixes in the innings. They must have scared the daylights out of the MCC bowlers. But success in cricket is not always about one-man heroics. Those were different times and maybe they were different. The transformation of the Indian cricket team continued with Sunil Gavaskar who although not aggressive by nature was a good thinker of the game and took Indian cricket forward with his batting and captaincy.
Kapildev came in 1979 and the fastest batsman in the world arrived and gave India the courage it needed. India played in the 1975 World Cup but the only match they won was against East Africa. The next match they won was in 1978. Of course, there wasn’t much one-day cricket being played in those days. This was followed by another worst World Cup in 1979 when they failed to win a single match. But gradually with early support from Karsan Ghavari and Roger Binny to Madanlal, Sandhu and Mohinder Amarnath Kapil found pace bowling partners. Not a terrible fast bowler but accurate and can move the ball. Now in the 1983 world cup team, except for Sandhu all these bowlers were all-rounders; this was another combination. Kapil himself had several qualities. Apart from being a world leader, he was also a great inspiration. And an incredible hit that would match the Vivian Richards of her generation I think. Different batsmen mind you and Kapil were not more reliable batsmen than Viv but, when he came down, he did very well. This man, unexpectedly, when everyone was mocking the Indians, put faith in the team that they could win. And he started winning matches in the Prudential Cup 1983. The Prudential Cup in 1983. What happened against Zimbabwe and the catch of Viv Richards in the last over tells you that this man was awake and had a chance to win the world cup when people would have given up. .
He was wholeheartedly supported by the team in 1983. Boy, if the opponents had gone into the Indian dressing rooms and, understood good old Hindi, they would have known who would win. The media and critics kept thinking that India’s success on the road to the final was a fluke. Almost everyone in the team contributed to the team in one way or another. This world cup victory was against the best teams like West Indies and Australia. Some good teams like Pakistan, England staked their claim but there was no stopping Kapil’s demons.
Like any big victory the team was short lived and Kapil lost the captaincy again. But the big man only plays with the bat or the ball and sometimes both. There was a term for him in Indian cricket called “Dada” cricketer meaning he was like an elder brother to the team. He can win matches out of trouble with his cricketing skills alone. The way Kapil played his game, recklessly and with a goal in mind brought the team to give the country its biggest victory in the game till date!
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