In a television commercial these days, legendary all-rounder Kapil Dev says that he was nine years old in the 1983 World Cup in England. Not his real age but his thought process was that of a nine-year-old, he clarifies. “Creative and Fearless,” Kapil says.
Fearless, indeed, were Kapil and his ‘Devils’ in that World Cup that the team surprised the cricketing world and became a force to reckon with. That win also changed the way the rest of the world looked at India, cricketing-wise. The win boosted an entire generation of youngsters to take up cricket as a career option.
It was the thought process of a ‘nine-year-old’ Kapil that helped India put an end to the West Indies’ dominance in World Cups that was in its third edition and which Clive Lloyd’s men won in the first two editions, 1975 and 1979.
This day, 38 years ago – June 25, 1983 – Kapil held aloft the Prudential World Cup at Lord’s, London, after upsetting West Indies in a low-scoring final.
Kapil, only 24 years then, was into his ninth month as India captain and took the team filled with all-rounders with the limited experience of leading in seven ODIs previously, winning four and losing three.
Former India seamer-all-rounder, Roger Binny, who emerged as the highest wicket-taker in that tournament with 18 scalps, said Kapil’s captaincy set the tone for India in that World Cup.
“In one-day games, captaincy is totally different. Kapil is an attacking fellow. He never played defence. He always wanted to get on with the game. That worked very well in one-dayers and set the tone for the game,” Binny said.
Kapil’s inspiring performances in that World Cup were many. But none better than the majestic 175 not out against Zimbabwe at Tunbridge Wells against Zimbabwe in the second round of league matches, or the catch that Kapil took after running miles to dismiss ‘Master Blaster’ Viv Richards in the final.
Nine – Kapil, Binny, K Srikkanth, Mohinder Amarnath, Yashpal Sharma, Balwinder Singh Sandhu, Madan Lal, Syed Kirmani and Sandeep Patil – of the 14 players played in all the eight matches during that World Cup. Sunil Gavaskar (6), Ravi Shastri (5), Kirti Azad (3) and Dilip Vengsarkar (2) did not figure in all the matches due to form and injury to some. And, Sunil Valson did not play in a single match.
Binny, now 65 and president of Karnataka State Cricket Association, recalls that epic knock from Kapil and the 60-run partnership the two shared while talking about the World Cup triumph to news18.com exclusively.
“After so many years, will there be untold stories?” Binny laughs when asked if there were any from the World Cup. “Every year it comes up; 38 years and it doesn’t seem that long,” Binny said as he sat down to reflect upon the memorable June month of 1983.
“It was not the ideal pitch to play a one-day game,” Binny said of the final that saw India score 183 and later dismiss the Windies for 140 to win by 43 runs. “The ball was flying around. But that turned in our favour. The small score, the way the ball was behaving, they had no clue at all.”
Binny’s contribution with the bat was two runs but took the wicket of the rival captain, Clive Lloyd, caught by Kapil at mid-off.
“Lloyd had a groin strain. He was basically struggling. When I was walking back to the top of my bowling mark, Kapil was walking with me and said, ‘this fellow can’t move. Don’t bowl close to him’. The previous ball, I bowled a little bit inside. The next one, I dragged it outside. He was not moving, standing there and hitting. I was looking at getting him caught behind, but he hit straight to Kapil at mid-off.”
Binny, who finished with 1/23 in 10 overs, said though it was a small score, “everybody got the breakthrough at the right time. We were able to break in early (Gordon Greenidge bowled by a dream delivery by Balwinder Singh Sandhu, the ball curving in as the opener-shouldered arms, for 1). That put them on the back foot straight away and exposed their batting. They were very confident players but they never had the upper hand right from the start. That was what we needed to do”.
Did at any point he think that the game was going away from India? Binny remembers: “Dujon and Malcolm Marshall had a 40-odd partnership for the seventh wicket (43 actually). They were not taking any chances. They were playing out the overs. There were a lot of overs left. Once we got through Macho (Marshall) and Dujon, we were back in the game. We have lost so many matches that we learnt it is not over till the last wicket falls. We had, in the past, lost matches with the last wicket raising 30-odd runs. That’s how we learnt.”
While Binny said the pitch did a lot in the final and it was not an ideal one for a one-day game, forget a World Cup final, he said that two grounds that India played in that World Cup had nothing for the bowlers.
“One was at The Oval when we lost to the West Indies (in the second round of the league stage). The ball did not seam, did not swing, it went straight. And the other was the game we lost to Australia in Trent Bridge (first round),” Binny, whose bowling was ideally suited for England conditions and where he always did well, said.
And when the pitch had something in it for the medium-pacers, Indian bowers were champions. Binny came at first or second change with Madan Lal after Kapil and Sandhu shared the new ball.
“I came at first change most of the games. Kapil bowled shorter spells and Madan came in. Sandhu bowled half his quota and I’d come in the 12th or the 13th over.
That was what we followed most games. Sandhu was a swing bowler, Kapil also a swing bowler. Madan and myself, with Jimmy (Amarnath), were the seamers. The ball did a little more when it was old. And we could also swing by shining one side.”
Binny was not aware of the then-record for most wickets in a World Cup tournament until the day after the final. “It was not on my mind. I did not know where I stood in the semifinals also. I did not realise until someone told me the next afternoon. Winning the Cup was the main thing.”
Binny is proud to have been a part of that World Cup squad. Talk of the 1983 World Cup, and the first thing that comes to Binny’s mind is the Indian team ending West Indies’ dominance in World Cups. In fact, West Indies have not won any ODI World Cup title thereafter.
“We were able to crack the dominance of the West Indies. No one was able to do it until then. Those days, they were unbeatable. They did not give anybody a chance. We were able to break their stranglehold. Coming from India, it was a big surprise for everybody. Australia were considered a stronger side. England were the next favourites as they had the home advantage. But, we had the right combination to crack that.”
How can you not talk about Kapil’s 175 not out when the subject is the 1983 World Cup?
Binny reminisces about that game at Nevill Ground. “We lost the first five wickets before we could even settle down. What was important was the way we crawled back, putting up fighting and winning total. Someone playing that knock in that situation, not playing his natural game but going there and trying to play to safety. That was a tremendous thing from Kapil,” Binny said.
Binny was to bat at No. 7 and walked in to join Kapil at 17 for 5. What was he doing in the dressing room before his turn to bat came?
“Under normal circumstances, after warm-up we come inside and sit down to watch how the pitch behaves in the first few overs. But here, before even looking at the pitch, wickets fell one after the other, Bang, Bang, Bang. There was absolutely no time to do anything. I had to put on my whites, buckled up and walked in. Kapil and I slowed down things a bit. We played for an hour or so. I preferred it that way – rather than sit and wait for your turn to go, you go there and bat without much thought in your mind.”
Binny scored 22 off 48 balls before being out leg before wicket to off-spinner John Traicos. Was 17/5 because of the pitch, you may wonder. Binny said: “The ball was stopping and coming. There was dampness. It was not seaming. Srikkanth played across the line and the ball ballooned up. It was a two-paced pitch. We could not play too many shots.
“Kapil chose beautifully when to go after the bowling. Those days, the rules were such that you had to have four people in the circle throughout, four in and five out. It was a big ground. There were a lot of gaps. With the last 11 overs to go, he chose the right time. His partnership with Syed Kirmani worth 126 unbeaten for the ninth wicket was vital. Kapil took most of the strike. Basically Kiri was able to give strike to Kapil. Kiri was very good at that. Even in Ranji Trophy, he used to change strike beautifully (Binny and Kirmani played for the same State, Karnataka, in Ranji Trophy). Kiri took the back seat straightaway.”
While India recovered magnificently from 17 for five to 266 for eight in 60 overs (yes, 60 overs and not 50 those days in England), Zimbabwe replied with 235. Kevin Curran, the late Zimbabwe all-rounder and father of current England internationals, Tom and Sam Curran, threatened to take the game away from India. But Binny said India were well in control.
“We were glad to have scored 266. Pitch had also improved so much. Kevin Curran, for a short span, with 73, hung around. We won quite comfortably. Not a small target. The pitch was a good one. Zimbabwe had beaten Australia in their previous encounter. You cannot take anybody lightly. Though we beat Zimbabwe very easily in the first game – we walked over them by five wickets, they came back to beat Australia. There was nothing in our minds to take them lightly,” Binny said.
Binny may not have been in that World Cup squad but for a remarkable Ranji Trophy season in 1982-83, playing a key role in Karnataka winning the title – second highest scorer with 570 runs at 51.81 with the bat and 22 wickets at 18.04.
Binny was humble in his admission: “Those days, everybody dreamt of playing in a World Cup final. Not many got that opportunity. The win made it sweeter. Basically, it gave us a lift. I performed. That was my goal – to perform for the country and do well and justify my place in the side. That whole tournament was a comeback of sorts for me into the Indian team. I was dropped from the side for the West Indies earlier that year. It was an ideal comeback. To cap it all, we won. For me it was unbelievable. Dream about things to really pass the tournament off and finish on the winning note, form of the team, considering we won against all odds.”
Among his 18 wickets in that World Cup, Binny picked up three that he cherishes the most. “Viv Richards (caught behind by Kirmani) at Old Trafford. Richards played too many shots. The previous ball, I dropped short. This one, I stuck to the same line. Then, Australia’s David Hookes, bowled in Chelmsford. He was trying to hit me on the rise outside the off stump; the ball swung and took his middle stump. And finally, England’s Chris Tavare in the semifinal (caught Kirmani). England were 69 for no loss. The openers, Graeme Fowler and Tavare, were settling in well. I got hit by Fowler over mid-on. I just pitched it up, the wicket was seaming, and Tavare 60/0 I came in, the batsmen settled. I got hit by Fowler over mid-on in my previous over. To Tavare, I just pitched it up and had him nick one behind.”