We thought Kapil Dev had gone mad, jests Kris Srikkanth
With his hilarious anecdotes and inimitable demeanour, Kris Srikkanth left everyone in splits during the launch of the movie celebrating India's game-changing World Cup triumph in 1983. Lauding Kapil Dev's inspirational captaincy, the 57-year-old attributed the Indian team's remarkable victory to their skipper's incredible self-belief. The man from Chennai also revealed that he and Sunil Gavaskar among other players had planned a holiday to the United States with the World Cup in England just being a part of their stop-over process.
Stating that he had got married a few months prior to the 1983 World Cup, Srikkanth divulged, "Sunny (Gavaskar) called me up and said, 'We are going to America for a holiday after the World Cup. We will play the World Cup on the way, so please book your tickets for Bombay to New York (with a) stop-over in London to play the World Cup.' That was the original plan. Sandeep (Patil), Roger Binny - all of us had booked our tickets like that. We were actually going for a holiday to the US. We thought we would play the 1983 World Cup (along the way). After the World Cup, we were forced to come back to India to meet the Prime Minister and the PResident. Then, we had to book the US tickets again in the month of August. We faced a loss of 10,000 INR because of this and Kapil, you have to reimburse the money with interest (in a light manner"
The flamboyant batsman pointed to India's abysmal World Cup record before the 1983 edition. From the first two editions in 1975 and 1979, they had managed only a solitary victory which came against a motley crew representing the now-disbanded East Africa outfit.
Recalling Kapil's enormous faith in the Indian's side ability during a team meeting, Srikkanth enthused, "Kapil Dev said when we can beat West Indies (Srikkanth erroneously mentioned it as India) once, we can beat them once more. We thought that this bugger has become a fool. Roger (Binny), myself, Kiri (Syed Kirmani), Kirti (Azad) and all of us who were smoking thought that this guy had gone mad that day."
He added, "(We thought) you are talking about beating this West Indian team. Thank God, none of us wants to remember the names of those four fast bowlers ever in our lives. And this idiot Kapil is coming and telling us that we will win this game. We thought kya paagal hai hamara captain (Our captain is such a fool). But Kapil was very serious (about India's chances in the final). Let me tell you one thing; we won the (1983) World Cup because of one man. The man who had so much self-belief in himself - Kapil Dev."
Starring Ranveer Singh as Kapil and directed by Kabir Khan, the upcoming film on India's famous World Cup triumph has been titled '83. The movie will reminisce the team's memorable victory against all odds in a tournament widely acclaimed as the watershed moment in Indian cricket.
Watch Kris Srikkanth's hilarious speech:
Srikkanth's rollicking speech evoked nostalgia and took everyone present in the arena back into the poignant era of the 80s. When some of the other Indian players began to get twitchy, the cricketer-turned-commentator put his former teammates at ease by affectionately referring to them as 'buggers', urging them to reveal the truth on their rib-tickling response to Kapil's words of motivation.
However, after evincing roars of laughter from the audience, Srikkanth paid tribute to Kapil's inspirational leadership. Recollecting the legendary all-rounder's astonishing self-belief which was a rarity in Indian cricket during those days, he thanked his erstwhile skipper for showing credence on the players and galvanising their potential to the unprecedented World Cup title.
Interestingly, India began and ended their successful campaign in 1983 by defeating the then intimidating West Indies team. After they beat Clive Lloyd's troops by 34 runs in their opening game at Manchester, the Indian team soon found themselves staring at an early exit upon suffering a 66-run defeat against the same side at The Oval.
The rest, as they say, is history. With his team tottering at 17/5, Kapil uplifted their fortunes single-handedly by smashing a 138-ball 175 against Zimbabwe at Tunbridge Wells. The Indians rode on their newfound momentum to progress to the final where they ultimately vanquished West Indies by 43 runs at Lord's.
Considering the fact that the swashbuckling Tamil Nadu opener top-scored in the iconic title clash with an invaluable 38, it can be said that Kapil's words played a part in instilling self-belief in Srikkanth. Much like his batting style, the right-hander managed to entertain everyone with his boisterous and honest speech.