SK Flashback: A thrilling triumph for the underdogs in the World Cup 1983 final
Lord’s was bathed in bright sunshine and ready to crown the undisputed kings of cricket, the West Indies, with yet another title. The conquerors from the Caribbean marshalled by the elder statesman Clive Lloyd had won the first two World Cups and were poised to make it a hat-trick on this beautiful day against surprise finalists, India.
The Indian World Cup record had been dismal. In two tournaments they had won a total of one match, against lowly East Africa in 1975. In 1983, the Australian captain Kim Hughes had rated the Indians as “dark horses” to win the championship. They sprang a surprise in the opening encounter by inflicting upon the West Indies their first defeat in the World Cup. Then they nearly faltered against Zimbabwe before being bailed out by a Herculean effort from their captain, Kapil Dev. But now in the final, they were not expected to take the title away from the reigning champions.
The match began truly to form with Andy Roberts and Joel Garner bowling extremely accurately. Garner’s steeply rising deliveries bowled from his great height, were impossible to get away. Soon Sunil Gavaskar fished at one from Roberts and was easily snapped up at the wicket. Krishnamachari Srikkanth dazzled for a while in his customary fashion and even delighted the crowd with a hooked six off Roberts. He and Mohinder Amarnath put on 57 for the second wicket. Then Yashpal Sharma helped Amarnath in a useful stand, and at 90 for two the Indian score bore a healthy look.
Disaster was round the corner as Amarnath was comprehensively bowled by Michael Holding, and Yashpal fell to the gentle off-break of Larry Gomes. Though Sandeep Patil played a useful knock, the innings fell away in the face of some fine bowling by the West Indians. Had it not been for a fighting last-wicket stand between Syed Kirmani and Balwinder Sandhu, the Indian total would have looked even more pitiable than their 183 all out in 54.4 overs.
There was a sensational start to the West Indies innings as Gordon Greenidge shouldered arms to an incoming delivery from Sandhu and was bowled for 1. You could not blame Greenidge, for Sandhu himself thought he had bowled an out-swinger. Instead, the ball came in sharply after hitting the seam. That set the stage for a grand entry by the imperious Vivian Richards. And he batted like the monarch that he often was at the crease.
As he smashed the bowling to all the corners of the hallowed ground, an early West Indies victory looked most likely. Just then he skied Madan Lal high over mid-wicket. Kapil Dev turned and ran after the ball that was rapidly going away from him. After what seemed an eternity the Indian skipper clung on to the prize. The door seemed to have opened for the underdogs. They stuck to their task, bowled tightly, fielded brilliantly and were constantly egged on by their captain. Wickets started tumbling; soon it was 76 for six. Jeff Dujon and Malcolm Marshall hung on for a while, and when the day’s hero Amarnath trapped Holding plumb in front, the sensational upset left everyone dumbfounded. "Now Indian mystics walk through fire", screamed the headline of Tony Lewis' report in The Sunday Telegraph.
And even the diehard Indian fans were stunned by this memorable win.
India: 183 all out (54.4 overs), West Indies: 140 all out (52 overs), (CWC 1983)