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Kapil’s English raised the ‘fun’ quotient

It turned out to be a memorable tour and the fact that we triumphed wasn't the only reason. We enjoyed ourselves on the field and during the practice sessions, writes Sandeep Patil.

cricket Updated: Jun 25, 2008 00:17 IST
Sandeep Patil

It turned out to be a memorable tour and the fact that we triumphed wasn't the only reason. We enjoyed ourselves on the field and during the practice sessions. There were hardly any expectations from us, and consequently, there was little or no pressure on us. Jimmy Amarnath was our pillar of strength and the idea was to bat around him. That apart, I don't think anything significant was discussed at the team meetings. The highlight of the ‘discussions’ was Kapil Dev’s insistence on speaking in English. He probably felt like doing so because we were in England. But nobody really understood what he said and that heightened the ‘fun’ quotient! We must thank Kapil for continuing to speak in English!

It was a team of ‘characters’. Sunil Gavaskar was unfortunate to share the room with me till his wife arrived and I could not help but feel that he did not score runs only because I troubled him a lot. I was nervous on the eve of our first game against the West Indies and attacked Sunil with questions. “Will I be able to see the ball?” was one of them. Sunil reminded me that I had faced the likes of Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson and Richard Hadlee. The vibes we got from the other teams, Zimbabwe apart, at the opening ceremony weren't very positive. It was almost as if they thought we did not deserve to be there.

We went on to play excellent cricket to reach the semifinals. You are bound to succeed if you get the basics right and each of us did that.

We went into the semifinals as the underdogs. England, it appeared, had already started celebrating their entry into the final. That irritated us for we had worked very hard to reach the knockout stage. The majority felt we would be better off bowling first to enable our seamers to capitalise on the morning conditions. As it turned out, Bob Willis won the toss and elected to bat. Our seamers carried on from where they had left off. I don't think the teams took any Indian bowler, other than Kapil seriously. Balwinder Sandhu, Roger Binny, Madan Lal and Jimmy used the English conditions very well. Kirti Azad choked England in the semifinal. England got 213, which in those days was a formidable score even in a sixty-over game. The openers gave us a good start and Jimmy and Yashpal Sharma shared a fruitful stand. People give me credit for attacking the bowling towards the end but it was the Jimmy-Yashpal stand that set things up in our favour. There was a stage when Kirti, Kapil and I were padded up with the asking-rate hovering around the six-per-over mark. Sunil suggested we stick to the original order and Kapil agreed, considering we had been calm through the tournament. I went in after Jimmy's dismissal and got my timing right. We made it to the final and the rest is history. It feels great to be recognised and rewarded for the achievement after all these years. That the BCCI is doing so is the proverbial icing on the cake. It's like your father rewarding you.