25th June 1983 saw one of the miraculous incidents getting unfolded at the Home of Cricket, Lord’s. Two times World Cup Champions were defeated by an underdog and the result shook the world cricket.
The Show Begins
The contestants like the previous two editions were divided into two groups in the 1983 World Cup as well. This time each team had to face all other teams twice. Group A had England, Pakistan, New Zealand, and Sri Lanka. England and Pakistan made it to the next stage. Pakistan and New Zealand had the same points but Pakistan went ahead by superior run rate.
Group B had India, West Indies, Australia, and Zimbabwe. West Indies qualified as expected. But Australia failed to register the required number of wins. With four wins out the six games, India qualified to the semi-final as the second best team of the group stage.
The Turning Point
India’s match against Zimbabwe gave Indian team the momentum they badly needed. Kapil Dev walked in with the team score on 17/5. It was a must-win situation for India. They had to win their two remaining matches to qualify. Kapil’s 175 off 138 won the match for the underdogs. Moreover, this game boosted their morale and they went on to punch the mighty Aussies in their next. As a result, India with hardly anyone backing them went to the semi-finals of 1983 World Cup.
The Journey to Finale
The first semi-finals saw Kapil Dev once again rising to the occasion and scalping three major wickets of England to end their innings on 213. Indian chased the score successfully with five overs to spare. This was another shocker as England were a far better team and expected to play the final against the West Indies. But the Indian side was determined to prove them in front of the cricket world. They way they kept delivering good results since the Zimbabwe match, it made the billions dream for a big cricket moment for the first time.
The second semi-final ended in the expected line. West Indies had a thumping win over Pakistan by eight wickets. West Indies were looking as dangerous as ever to seal their hat-trick in the World Cup.
This was the third consecutive time Lord’s was hosting the World Cup final. This was the third consecutive time West Indies were in the finale of the tournament. And this was the very first time some ‘minnows’ entered the biggest stage of the mega event.
Indians back home were getting ready for the celebration. They had doubts but they started to play for the biggest moment. On the other hand, the experts in the cricketing circuit were still trying to absorb whatever happened. And they were sure of Indians were lucky to reach the final. The supports were with the defending Champions on 25th June 1983.
India batted first only to be smashed by the likes of Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshall, and Michael Holding. Kris Srikkanth tried to contribute with 38 off 52 with seven fours and one six, it wasn’t enough. Indians were all out for 183 in 55 overs and the countdown began for another brilliant West Indies chase.
The Caribbean team was the best chasing team at that moment. It was just a matter of time for them to lift that trophy yet again. What followed next changed the dimension of Indian cricket forever.
An outswinger from Balwinder Sandhu gave the initial blow to the Windies. Then it was a Mohinder Amarnath and Madan Lal show. They ran through the entire West Indies batting line up and picked up three wickets each. The highest individual score for the Windies came from Viv Richards. But even his effort was finished when he was pouched by Kapil. That catch is one of the best in the history of World Cup as Kapil ran backward from the Mid-wicket for at around 100 meters to take that catch. Jeff Dujon and Malcolm Marshall tried to put some resistance at the end but eventually, West Indies lost the match by 43 runs.
Some still call it ‘upset’, ‘fluke’, ‘miracle’. But the way Indians shaped them for the victory, those efforts cannot be ignored. The impact it had on Indian cricket and eventually on global cricket is phenomenal.