World Cup nostalgia: The other India vs West Indies 1983 banger starring Yashpal Sharma, Roger Binny
Besides the 1983 World Cup final, India and West Indies played out another riveting match.
It was classic David vs Goliath. West Indies were the two-time defending champions, undefeated during their victorious World Cup campaigns in 1975 and 1979. India had won just one of six World Cup encounters, going winless in the previous edition when they were beaten even by Sri Lanka, still to attain Test status at the time. Except that…
Except that just two and a half months previously, in only the third One-Day International between the sides, Kapil Dev’s men had done the unthinkable, pulling off an upset of epic proportions against Clive Lloyd’s marauding outfit. That it had come in the Caribbean, in Albion, Berbice, and by the comfortable margin of 27 runs, suggested it was a victory well earned.
But not even the entire Indian side was convinced it could pull off an encore when the teams squared at Old Trafford in Manchester for the opening fixture for both units at the 1983 World Cup. India’s only team meeting ahead of the match was held the previous day, during the bus drive from London to Manchester. When Kapil told his boys that if they could beat the Caribbean giants once, there was no reason why they couldn’t do so again, he was met with unmasked disbelief and no little derision. Such was India’s lack of self-belief that they had confirmed a visit to the US for a series of exhibition matches once their interest in the World Cup ended, which they were sure would be at the conclusion of the league phase.
Kapil’s conviction, however, was unshakeable and gradually, his optimism started to rub off on his colleagues. They were still unsure of taking on the West Indians on an equal footing, but they shed their hangdog attitude; they weren’t beaten before they took the field.
Subsequent events would put the significance of the toss in perspective. Aiming for an early finish – who could blame Lloyd, what with India at 66-1 to win the title – the West Indian captain stuck India in. It was a decision that had a massive bearing on the outcome.
The Yashpal-Binny show
India made a decent enough start with their top four all getting off to starts, but Sandeep Patil’s 36 was the highest and when Kapil was dismissed by the off-spin of Larry Gomes, the writing appeared on the wall at 141 for five. Yashpal Sharma alone of the specialist batters was still unconquered, basking in the rare Manchester sunshine; he was tasked with taking the side to respectability in the company of the all-rounders to follow – Roger Binny, Madan Lal, Syed Kirmani and Ravi Shastri.
Yashpal was a feisty character, robust and uncompromising, and he loved the scent of battle. Trusting Binny to hold his end up – the Karnataka right-hander was a regular opener in domestic cricket and had added a record 451 for the first wicket in the Ranji Trophy with Sanjay Desai – Yashpal batted with flair and freedom to marshal the lower order astutely. With Binny, he added 73, then put on 29 alongside Madan. With the tail frustrating the West Indian quicks, India piled up 262 for eight, a huge score those days in 60-over cricket.
When play spilled over to the reserve day after a rain interruption, the real Manchester weather surfaced. It was cold and overcast, there was dampness in the air and India’s assortment of medium-pacers made merry with early inroads into the powerful batting line-up. The anticipated barrage of boundaries didn’t materialise; instead, wickets tumbled without the score board advancing significantly and all of a sudden, every single Indian on the field started to believe victory was a genuine possibility.
Shastri feasted on the remains left behind by the medium-pacers to pack off Malcolm Marshall and Michael Holding, putting India on the brink of a famous, famous victory. At 157 for nine, the game was all but done, though Andy Roberts and Joel Garner entertained other ideas. Amidst mounting tension and the prospect of a remarkable Caribbean win, they added 71 for the last wicket when Shastri had the attack-minded Garner stumped. West Indies had been brought to their knees, their first defeat in World Cup history a foretaste of what was to come a fortnight later, at Lord’s on June 25.
Brief scores: India 262/8 in 60 overs (Sandeep Patil 36, Yashpal Sharma 89, Roger Binny 27; Michael Holding 2-32, Malcolm Marshall 2-48, Larry Gomes 2-46) beat West Indies 228 all out in 54.1 overs (Clive Lloyd 25, Andy Roberts 37 not out, Joel Garner 37; Roger Binny 3-48, Ravi Shastri 3-26) by 34 runs. Player of the Match: Yashpal Sharma.
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