Krishnamachari Srikkanth: Winning the World Cup in 1983 came as a massive surprise to India
When we left the shores of India in 1983 we never expected to be world champions.
In fact my flight was from Bombay to New York with just a stopover in London for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup.
That was because in the first two World Cups the only team we had beaten was East Africa, we even lost to Sri Lanka who were not yet a Test team.
The difference in 1983 though, was that we had Kapil Dev as captain.
He gave us the self-belief that was not there before.
It all started with the first game against the West Indies. We’d toured there just before the tournament and won a game in Berbice in Guyana. Before the tournament opener he said to us, if we can beat them once, why not again?
We thought he was crazy but his self-belief got us thinking maybe it was true. We went out and beat them quite comfortably and suddenly thought to ourselves, we can do this.
It was not just with his words that he led us though. After a couple of big defeats to Australia and the West Indies, we played Zimbabwe down at Tunbridge Wells.
It was a green top and batting first, Sunil Gavaskar got a duck, I got a duck, and before we knew it we were 17-5. We were so ashamed but Kapil Dev went out there and rather than play defensively he played his shots.
My wife had come down and once he started scoring we stood just outside the players enclosure in the cold. Everyone was so superstitious that we couldn’t move, but I just watched with awe as he hit 175. It was an amazing innings.
From there we beat Australia at Chelmsford in a game that was basically a quarter-final when Roger Binny swung the ball all over the place.
In the semi-final against England, no one expected us to win. All the commentators were preparing for a repeat of the 1979 final but Mohinder Amarnath, who was a part-time bowler really, got rid of David Gower and Mike Gatting and England collapsed.
That got us through to face the West Indies again in the final. I’ll never forget Joel Garner’s spell. The ball was coming down from ten feet in the dew. I really struggled but I spoke to Jimmy (Amarnath) and he told me to play my natural game. The next over I slashed one for four and in the end I got 38, which turned out to be the highest score of the World Cup final.
We only got 183, and even Kapil Dev didn’t tell us that it would be enough. But he said that we should make it as difficult as possible for the West Indies.
Once again it came down to him. He caught Viv Richards and although they kept fighting, we won.
That was the day that Indian cricket changed. For every Indian in the world, we could walk down the street thinking ‘we’re world champions’.