Many of us remember exactly where we were, and what the weather was like on that fateful day in the summer of 1983. But my most memorable moment came on June 24, 1983, the eve of that day which is now etched in Indian cricket history. I was walking around Connaught Place – the atmosphere was charged and everyone seemed to be talking about how India would do in the final — with a young journalist friend of mine.
As we neared Regal cinema we chanced upon a familiar face, puffing away on a pipe. “That’s Lala Amarnath,” I excitedly told my companion. Soon we were within a handshake’s distance, and as we made eye contact I bowed my head down and greeted the legend. As he turned to us I quickly said, “Sir, I am a great fan of Surinder and Mohinder Amarnath.” He must have heard that a lot and wasn’t particularly impressed, but when I told Lala ji that I had watched him play in Lahore, Delhi and Patiala, the normally stern face broke into a grin and he asked, “Do you also play cricket?” Shaking with nervousness I replied in the affirmative, and quickly slipped in, “Sir, do you think India will win the World Cup?” He thought for a second and said, “May be, but Mohinder’s performance will be crucial.” My friend and I touched Lala ji’s feet in respect and with a pat on the back he disappeared into the crowd.
The words turned out to be prophetic as Jimmy’s all-round show took India through. It was a great moment for me for as I’d spent many hours watching Jimmy play at the Karnail Singh Stadium in Delhi. Perhaps this is a good time to tell you that my companion on that fateful day was none other than Rajeev Shukla, now a member of parliament and a senior BCCI functionary.