He was at Number 16 in Runs Tally. He had the third-lowest batting average amongst the 19 batsmen who scored a minimum of 200 runs in the tournament.
Three Indian batsmen had a higher aggregate – Kapil Dev, Yashpal Sharma and Mohinder Amarnath.
And yet, according to Impact Index – a holistic and comprehensive cricket analytical system which gives context to every match and performance, it was Sandeep Patil, who was not only India’s most impactful batsman of the 1983 World Cup but also the second-highest impact batsman, after Viv Richards who scored 151 runs more than him in the tournament!
Patil did not score any big runs – he managed just 216 runs in 8 innings at a modest average of 30.85 including two fifties in the tournament. But what stood out was the timing and context of his performances and the rapid rate at which he scored his runs.
In India’s tournament opener against the two-time defending World Cup holders, West Indies, at Manchester, Patil came in to bat at 46 for 2, steadied the innings with a useful 30-run stand with Amarnath before adding 49 with Yashpal Sharma. His 36 off 52 deliveries laid the foundation for Sharma and the all-rounders to take India to a respectable total and then pull off a great upset – against probably the greatest team in cricket history. This win gave India the self-belief and momentum early in the tournament.
Chasing a modest 156 against Zimbabwe at Leicester, India were in a bit of bother at 32 for 2, again having lost both their openers – Gavaskar and Srikkanth early. Zimbabwe had upset Australia in the previous encounter at Trent Bridge and were no pushovers. Patil joined Amarnath and counter-attacked smashing 7 fours and a six effectively sealing the match for India with a 54-ball 50.
In a virtual Quarter-Final against Australia at Chelmsford, Patil again walked out and joined Sharma with India in trouble having lost the big 3 with just 65 on the board. The duo did what they knew best – they were aggressive and they took on the likes of Thomson, Lawson and Hogg – adding a quickfire 53 for the fourth-wicket. Patil’s 25-ball 30 gave the innings the necessary momentum and useful contributions from the middle and lower order took India to a respectable 247, which ultimately proved too much for Australia.
Patil wasn’t done yet. He had reserved his best for the big stage – the semi-final! It was a high pressure match against the fancied home team at Manchester. Chasing 214 for a historic win, India lost their Mr Dependable – Amarnath for a patient 46 with the score at 142. India still had the upper hand, but had to cope with the pressure of chasing in the semi-final in front of a home crowd – there was tension in the air.
And once again, it was left to the pair of Sharma and Patil to take India home. They did not disappoint with Patil playing the role of the aggressor. He hammered an unbeaten 51 off just 32 deliveries including 8 boundaries and put together a match-winning 63 for the fourth-wicket with Sharma. India had beaten the hosts to enter the World Cup Final.
What separated Patil from the other batsmen in the match was his attitude and courage and the sheer audacity to take the attack to the opposition bowlers. While Patil scored at a strike rate of 159.37, the average strike rate of all the other batsmen in the match was a mere 50.6! This means he had scored his runs at three times the pace as the other batsmen in the match – this was no ordinary achievement!
In fact, this was the second-highest strike rate innings (for any score of 50 or more) in the tournament. But Imran Khan’s 56 off 33 deliveries came against a weak Sri Lankan team in Sawnsea at the beginning of the tournament. In contrast, Patil produced his best in the knockouts against a strong home team.
His contribution in the final is again not given the credit it deserves. 27 off 29 deliveries when seen in isolation does not make much of an impact. But when we account for context everything changes. Coming in to bat at 90 for 3, Patil did not get bogged down even as wickets fell around him. He kept the scoreboard ticking and took India to 153 before being the eighth batsman to fall.
The four batsmen before him scored at a collective strike rate of 42.54 – this suggested the going was tough against the likes of Holding, Garner, Roberts and Marshall. But this did not deter Patil whose strike rate at 93.1 was more than double of the four before him. The lower-order added a few invaluable runs and India managed to scrape through to 183. The rest is history!
So, Patil was India’s second-highest scorer scoring at a much higher rate than other Indian batsmen in the two biggest matches of the tournament and probably Indian cricket history! That cannot be a coincidence!
Three qualities defined Patil’s performance during the World Cup. He chipped in with useful contributions often coming out to bat under pressure when the team had lost early wickets.
Secondly and most significantly, he scored at a rate much higher than the match norm as is also reflective in his strike rate of 90 in the tournament – even higher than the great Richards (81.19)! Only Kapil Dev had a higher strike rate than Patil for all batsmen who scored at least 200 runs in the tournament. The average strike rate of these batsmen was 66.36. This shows his mindset and confidence as much as it highlights the phenomenal rate at which Patil was scoring his runs in the tournament. Patil had a career strike rate of 82.17 much higher than the standard of his times of 70.12 (for batting positions 3-6 where he batted).
He also exhibited a unique quality to produce his best in the biggest matches – contributing in all the three knockouts – with a defining performance in the semi-final and a supporting one in the virtual quarter-final and final.
Incidentally, this big-match temperament was not new to him – he had scored a match-winning 64 off just 55 deliveries against England in the series decider at Cuttack in January,1982. Characteristic of him, he came out to bat with the fall of early wickets and counter-attacked with Gavaskar holding fort at one end.
Add to his big-match play and ability to score at a faster pace, was his remarkable consistency in the tournament. He failed just twice in 8 matches.
While Kapil Dev’s unbeaten 175 against Zimbabwe, Yashpal Sharma’s top-scores in 3 big matches, Amarnath’s all-round show in the semi-final and final and Binny’s 18 wickets do get their due recognition, the cricketing world has somehow forgotten the remarkable performances of Sandeep Patil in the 1983 World Cup.
Time he gets his due.