In the history of India-England rivalry, the 1983 World Cup semi-final still evokes strong emotions. The memories of India’s win have been rekindled as the two teams earned another shot at each other at the big stage — this time in the Champions Trophy final.
The fact that Saturday, the eve of the final at Edgbaston, completes 30 years of Kapil’s Devils’ upset of England has added to the interest.
Our old-timers are mighty chuffed talking about it. “Honestly, it doesn’t feel like it has been 30 years. Everything is still so clear in my mind,” says Roger Binny.
“That victory started a revolution. India started to do well abroad. We had the belief to go up against anyone. What I remember the most is the team spirit we showed. We fought till the end. England were an unbeatable team in one-day cricket those days,” added the bowling hero of that game who is one of the selectors to have picked the current India team.
England had started well. Openers Graeme Fowler and Chris Tavare put on 69 before Binny claimed both. The platform was set for England’s in-form middle-order led by David Gower and Allan Lamb.
However, according to Madan Lal, Kapil Dev’s fine captaincy checked England’s march. The hosts were all out 213 and India got home with six wickets to spare.
“Kapil took a chance and brought on Kirti Azad (playing as all-rounder). He bowled well and completed his full quota (12-1-28-1). Sometimes, instinct of a captain really works well and it did,” said Madan Lal.
The big pick
Azad, who stunned the home crowd with the all-important wicket of Ian Botham, said: “There was a stage when Mohinder Amarnath and I bowled 24 overs for 55 runs and got four wickets (Amarnath got two and one was run out). My wicket of Botham was important. Kapil came to me and asked me jokingly, ‘Only one thing can happen. How could you manage to keep the ball low and turn it as well.’ I answered: ‘Thankfully, it didn’t keep any lower else it would have gone underground.’”
India’s surprise weapon of the tournament, Balwinder Singh Sandhu, attributed the success to the relaxed atmosphere in the camp.
“The team was relaxed mentally, it was because the seniors including Kapil Dev, Mohinder Amarnath and Sunil Gavaskar, ensured there was no pressure on the juniors. We stayed together pulling each other’s legs, no one was spared. Srikkanth was the joker of the pack with his singing and dancing,” said Sandhu.
England it is said paid the price of being overconfident. “We were in Lancashire and on TV there was this show where they were talking already about how England will play against the West Indies in the final. Their focus was on the final and not on the semifinal at hand,” said Azad.