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From pessimism to euphoria

cricket Updated: Jun 24, 2008 23:54 IST
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It's hard to believe that twenty five years have passed since we won the World Cup. How time flies! Going by the record books of the previous World Cups and the performance of the previous Indian teams, it was not surprising that we hardly gave ourselves a chance of reaching the last four, let alone winning the final.

Not surprisingly, we lost the first friendly against a Minor County team consisting of average club cricketers followed by a thrashing by the Kiwis led by Glenn Turner.

Get on with the tournament and get over with it was the general feeling. We were up against the mighty West Indies in the opening game but at the back of our minds we knew they could be beaten because prior to the World Cup, we had toured the West Indies and beaten them in one of the one-dayers.

It was decided to bat first, put up a decent total and put the Windies under pressure. Though they boasted of the best batting line-up in the world, there was always an outside chance of pinning them down if they lost early wickets. Luckily, Mohinder Amarnath and Kapil Dev carried their Caribbean form forward and India posted a fighting total.

The slow wicket at Old Trafford helped our medium-pacers and the mighty side collapsed. For the second time, the invincibles had been beaten in a short span and the team to do that was India. To add to it, Indian supporters came in huge numbers to support the team. Could we do it again in the league stage? Or was it asking for the moon?

The West Indies were like wounded tigers and somebody was bound to pay for it. As expected, they got their act together and thrashed every team in sight. The return league match at the Oval saw a Malcolm Marshall snorter strike me on the jaw when we were on course chasing the target. I left the field with seven stitches and the thought that I wouldn't be taking any further part in the tournament.

Though not many stood up to the fiery foursome after my departure, we grew in confidence and went on to beat Australia and England en route to Lord's. The rest is history. My friend Vasoo Paranjape jokes that he never watches the replay of the World Cup final fearing Kapil might drop Viv Richard's catch that paved the way for our victory. Kapil was the man. Besides playing several fine innings and bowling brilliantly, he played the once-in-a-lifetime innings against Zimbabwe when India were 17 for 5. That was simply incredible to say the least.