As another cricket World Cup is upon us, I am reminded of the 1983 World Cup final when my love for cricket began with India's victory over the mighty West Indies.
Those days, television was not common in small towns. We had to depend on the radio for entertainment. As a 12-year-old living in a small town in Himachal, I could make little sense of the cricket commentary in English being aired on radio and used the medium for listening to Hindi film songs.
On a sultry afternoon on June 25, I had ample time on my hands owing to the summer break at the boarding school which I had joined recently. I had not followed cricket till that day, let alone stay abreast of India's exceptional showing in the tournament in England. I was blissfully unaware of the Indian team prevailing over the great West Indies in a group match and Kapil Dev's marathon effort against Zimbabwe when he had singlehandedly taken India out of a hopeless situation.
But that afternoon, there was a buzz that India were just one step away from cricketing glory. There was an excitement in the air: can India pull this off? Day-and-night cricket was still a few years away but the time difference between India and England had reduced it to a virtual day-and-night affair and people eagerly awaited the big one to start.
I also wanted to have my share of the fun and decided to go to the place of an acquaintance who had a TV set. Seeing the rush of people gathered to watch the match, the owner placed the black-and-white TV set in the courtyard of the house.
I don't remember much of the Indian innings except that Srikkanth scored 30-odd runs and was the highest run-getter in that low total of 183. At half-way mark, a few silent prayers went up, while others were hopeful of India crossing the mark. Soon, the gathering erupted into joy as Balwinder Sandhu claimed Greenidge early. Richards was going great guns and threatened to take the match away from India when the young Indian captain ran quite a distance backwards to take a stunning catch. Then it was the turn of Mohinder Amarnath to tease the Windies lower order with his slow-medium bowling. It was just a matter of time as wickets fell in quick succession and India romped home.
There were boisterous celebrations into the night as Kapil Dev lifted the Cup at the Lord's. As Jimmy Amarnath was declared Man of the Finals, he became my favourite cricketer. The win had turned me a cricket fan for life. firstname.lastname@example.org
(The writer is assistant news editor, Hindustan Times.)