India at Lord's - A Walk Down The Memory Lane
Often referred to as the Home of Cricket, Lords has been hosting cricket matches for over two centuries now. This historical ground, situated in St.John’s Wood, West London, serves as the home of English and Wales cricket board as well as the European cricket council. Such is the aura of this ground that every player dreams of playing here and wishes to see his name etched in the prestigious ”Honours Board” where all the test hundreds scored at Lord’s are commemorated. It has time and again been a prime source of inspiration for the visiting sides more than the hosts. As Indians,we share a very special bond with the Mecca of cricket. 2 of India’s greatest and most historic victories have come at this ground. As cricket aficionados all round the globe await the 2000th test fixture between the colonial cousins with bated breath, lets take a walk down the memory lane and relive those historic victories of the MEN IN BLUE.
The 1983 World Cup victory:Beating The Expectations
The pictures of an elated Mohinder Amarnath going for the stumps are still fresh in our minds. We faced the then mighty West Indies of 1970s-80s and came out bruised but not battered. What happened on that pleasant summer of 25th June,1983 at Lords has become an integral part of cricketing folklore because Kapil’s devils won the World Cup beating the best team at the Mecca of cricket-The Lord’s. And it was by no means a fluke.
Indian innings was wrapped up for a paltry total of 183 runs and to be honest, no one gave India a realistic chance of defending this total against a team which had the likes of Sir Viv Richards, Gary Sobers and Gordon Greenidge in their batting line up.
After an intriguing battle of close to 50 overs,the moment finally arrived. Amarnath came on to bowl what was the 52nd over of the West Indian innings. The last pair of West Inides team was at the crease and facing Amarnath’s medium pace was Michael Holding. Holding who was till then quite happy to defend the ball, decided to attack one. It was an attempt to play the flick shot. The willow missed the red cherry and the ball thudded into his pads and sent the entire Indian team into an instantaneous appeal. The umpire raised his dreaded finger and with it the final nail was nailed into the carribean coffins. The hunter had become the hunted. And what happened after that has been played on the national television time and again over the 3 decades and it indeed would be redundant to explain those feelings in words.
To be honest, it was not just a victory-It was an inspiration for a nation of millions. It was a moment which inspired the 16 year old Mumbaikar named Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar to take up a willow in his hand. Rest as they say is history. It gave the country a reason to smile,a reason to be proud of the nation. The youth had got it’s idol in Kapil Dev and Mohinder Amarnath. Winning the WC against heavy odds was a massive achievement by all means especially when no one gave India a real chance of making it to the finals-leave alone winning the WC. This epochal win changed the course of the game in our country forever. It made people sit and take notice of the gentleman’s game.It was undoubtedly one of the finest moments in international cricket-A moment which signalled the end of carribean supremacy in cricket.
The West indies up untill that historic day were the undisputed force in the cricketing arena but 2nd April,1983 not only gave the world a new champion but also announced the arrival of Indian cricket at international stage in the best possible manner. Frankly speaking, this win was the beginning of the end of the dominance of Test cricket and identification of Indian fans with one-day cricket.This epic win also marked the shift of national sport from hockey to cricket in the psyche of the Indians and played a major part in the sport’s rise to the present de-facto religion status.
Today cricket is a stage where people exhibit their patriotism. It is a chance for them to break free from the shackles of all the mess that is lying around them. All this is courtsey the 1983 WC win at Lords. Some moments get imprinted in the minds of the fans forever and this certainly is one of them. Kudos to Kapil’s Devils.
The 2002 Natwest series win:Indian Cricket Redefined
When Zaheer Khan pushed the third ball of the last over towards mid off and scampered through for a single, a wild throw at the striker’s end resulted in an overthrow and Zaheer returned to take the winning single. History was made at Lords-India had finally beaten England in their own den at Lord’s. The Indians in the crowd roared in front of the stunned English team.
After being reduced to 146-5 chasing a huge total of 326 runs, it seemed all but over for the Men In Blue but two youngsters Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif had other plans. They pulled India from the brink of a record ninth consecutive loss in one-day finals to a thrilling two-wicket win at Lord’s. Ask any cricket fan and he would remember this epic win because of Yuvraj and Kaif’s heroics and for one more special reason. Immediately after India clinched the Natwest series in that last over thriller against the Poms, the camera cut to the Indian dressing room where a visually elated skipper Sourav Ganguly had whipped open his shirt and was furiously curling it over his head. The camera then panned to Andrew Flintoff who was seen crouching in the middle after conceding the winning run-This was the same bowler who had charged topless around the Wankhede stadium a few months back.
Ganguly standing at the Lord’s balcony was delivering the mother of all tit for tats. This was not just the display of DADA’s unbound joy and emotions-He was making a strong statement. This was a vindication of the fact that Indians were now going to play a fearless brand of cricket not only with the bat and ball but also with their heads , they were a bunch of players who wore their heart up their sleeves. Indian cricket was never the same after that historic victory. It had changed for good-we were no more the old school giants who used to get bullied by 6th grade aussie students. We had grown up as a team,we now knew the art of fighting fire with fire. This was the same Indian side which was few years back termed as the ”Lions in their own den”. The victory at Lords had eradicated this label forever. Gone are the days when the fans and the players used to have that ”honour in defeat” sort of mentality. Today,we play to win. Today winning has become a habit and not a miracle.
All this courtsey that one monumental win in the Natwest series. As for Ganguly’s bare torso act , I would say that yes, the brattish upstart brought the tone of the holy home of cricket down a notch but that marked the beginning of a new era in Indian cricket-An era where the MEN IN BLUE were no more the underdogs.
All in all,the historic and holy home of cricket-the Lord’s has witnessed two of the most defining moments in Indian cricketing history. Kapil Dev holding the WC trophy and the dressing room scenes from Lord’s balcony have truly become one of the most lasting images of Indian cricket. Whether MS DHONI and his men add another glorious chapter to this fairytale script of Indian victories at Lord’s remains to be seen.