SK Flashback: The champions slump to first World Cup defeat
The two-time champions West Indies had never lost a match in the World Cup. That added up to nine wins in ten matches, with one being washed out. India had won only one of their six matches - against non-descript East Africa eight years earlier - and had finished last in their group in the previous World Cup. The other known parameter was the wet Manchester weather and, true to form, early morning rain delayed the start.
It would have taken a brave man, or a lunatic, to predict anything other than a one-sided contest in favour of the West Indies. The Indian openers Sunil Gavaskar and Krishnamachari Srikanth were confronted by the same Caribbean attack as in the previous World Cup except that Colin Croft had made way for Malcolm Marshall. That would have provided no succor to the batsmen, for Marshall was just as menacing as his predecessor, and approaching his peak at that point.
Predictably, the West Indies had India in trouble. Sandeep Patil played some typically belligerent strokes but he perished to the gentle off-spin of Larry Gomes, as did Kapil Dev. At 141 for 5 it seemed like a familiar story.
Yashpal Sharma may not have been the most graceful batsman in the world but he was as gritty, and cheeky, as they come. He batted with tremendous application, and in the company of Roger Binny put on 73 priceless runs for the sixth wicket. His 89 off 120 deliveries inclusive of 9 fours was perhaps the innings of his life. At 262 for eight in their 60 overs, India had a total good enough to stretch the champions.
A customary rousing start was but a mirage on this occasion. Both Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes fell on either side of the half-century mark. At stumps, the score read 67 for two, with 22 overs already bowled. When play resumed the next morning, the asking-rate was well above five-an-over. A sense of urgency was the order of the day. With a keen tussle on, India were jubilant as the mighty Vivian Richards was taken behind by Syed Kirmani off Binny in the second over of the day. The West Indies were already on the back foot and their cause was not helped as wickets tumbled regularly in the run-chase. Amazingly, India were tightening their grip on the match. At 157 for nine, the West Indies found themselves in dire straits with 106 runs still required.
Andy Roberts had been in such situations before. He could make a few hefty swipes, and also defend resolutely when the occasion demanded. With him was Joel Garner, in whose hands the bat looked undersized. They dug in and, as the score mounted, there were murmurs all around about the hair-raising last-wicket stand between Roberts and Deryck Murray eight years earlier, almost to the day, which clinched victory against Pakistan. Roberts and Garner raised 71 runs but the Indians kept their heads. Ravi Shastri enticed Garner out of the crease and Kirmani removed the bails. The West Indies fell short by 34 runs with almost six overs remaining. A disappointed Clive Lloyd recounted: "I said before the competition began that it could be more open than in the past and this has proved to be true." It was another shocking result in this exciting World Cup.
India: 262 for 8 wickets (60 overs), West Indies: 228 all out (54.1 overs) (CWC 1983)