25th June 1983 was a day etched in every Indian's memory. It was a golden moment in the history of India's most revered sport -- cricket. Those iconic pictures of Kapil Dev holding the World Cup trophy and the entire country immersed in celebrations still reverberate in the minds of many.
Let us revisit the most beautiful moment in India's cricket history.
Road to the final
The indomitable, intimidating and marauding West Indies reached their third consecutive World Cup final, crushing Zimbabwe, India and Australia in the group stage and breezing past Pakistan in the semis.
On the other hand, Team India, labelled as the underdogs, kept creeping up the ladder, winning small battles. Unlike the West Indies, India could not race into the final. The road to the final was rough with scary moments like the one against Zimbabwe in the group stage when India was reeling at 17/5 while batting first. Skipper Kapil Dev scored 175, an inning characterized by grit and tenacity to drive India through to a victory.
In the semis, India perhaps for the first time in the tournament seemed authoritative, beating England by 6 wickets.
June 25th, 1983 -- the big day arrived with the iconic Lord's stadium packed to the rafters, while others tuned in to their TV or radio. The Carribbean fans were already sensing a victory while the Indian fans were on pins and needles, praying for a miracle.
Kapil Dev lost a crucial toss and was asked to bat first on a green track against a bowling unit that could send a chill down the spine of any batsman. India was already on the backfoot even before a ball was bowled.
West Indies bowlers wreak havoc
The opening pair of batting maestro Sunil Gavaskar and the swashbuckling K Srikkanth faced a terrifying first few minutes at the crease as the lethal duo of Andy Roberts and Joel Garner made the ball talk. In a bid to get the scoreboard moving, Gavaskar edged the ball to the keeper Dujon off Roberts and the Little Master was gone after scoring just 2 off 12.
Srikkanth and the all-rounder Mohinder Amarnath stitched a crucial partnership of 57 before Sikkanth got out for a well-compiled 38 off 57. Post his dismissal, the fearsome foursome -- Roberts, Garner, Marshall and Holding ripped through the Indian batting and India was all out for a paltry score of 183.
Srikkanth (38) was the top scorer followed by helpful contributions from Sandip Patil (27) and Amarnath (26).
A perfect start for the Windies
The atmosphere in the Indian dressing room was understandably full of tension but a few encouraging words by the skipper perked the boys up and they entered the field with an intent to stop the Goliaths of world cricket from winning their third World Cup title.
The Indian bowling unit didn't look intimidating but all the 5 medium pacers -- Kapil Dev, R Binny, Madan Lal, BS Sandhu and Amarnath had the ability to swing the ball both ways and the conditions were meant for swing bowling.
Sandhu bowled an in-swinging beauty to clean up Gordon Greenidge for just 1. The happiness was short-lived as the awe-inspiring West Indian great Viv Richards swaggered out of the dressing room with plans to finish things off quickly. He smacked the Indian bowlers while Haynes played the second fiddle. Haynes got out after scoring 13 and the Windies were 50/2.
With the skipper Lloyd on the crease and Richards going berserk, it still looked WI's game.
Catch that won the Cup
Moments later, a short ball from Madan Lal was pulled in the air towards the mid-wicket region by Richards and Kapil Dev took a stunner running back, helping India get rid of the dangerous Richards.
Gomes, Lloyd and Bacchus then got out in quick succession. WI was struggling at 76-6 and Indians started to believe as they inched closer to history.
A 43-run fightback by Dujon and Marshall was thwarted by Amarnath as he got them both out. With 124-8 on the scoreboard, India already had their one hand on the trophy.
With West Indies at 140-9, Amarnath ran in, bowled a good length delivery, swinging in slightly and got Holding plumb in front. The entire nation erupted in joy. Smiles, tears of joy and disbelief -- every emotion was there in one big picture that would be remembered for ages to come.