The World and Indian cricket would never have been graced by the maestro of a certain Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, had not an underdog team, led by Kapil Dev, defeated the mighty West Indies at the Lord’s on June 25, 1983.
The day changed not only changed the course of cricket in India but eventually the fate of this country. It was a reestablishment of the faith for millions of Indians that they could now own and boast about a success at the international stage. At a time when the calypso beats were falling heavily on cricket, the World Cup victory in 1983 had astutely laid the first foundation stone for India’s dominance of the world cricket in successive years. A new sporting economy was unveiled in the country which would be controlled by cricket and only cricket.
The journey, though, was an uphill task for the team which was not given any chance to emerge victorious even by its own board. To understand the extent of the upset that was caused in 1983, one must know that the then Indian cricket board had no cash to felicitate the World Cup-winning team and had to persuade Lata Mangeshkar to hold a free concert for them to raise some funds.
83 saw the Indian team, led astutely by Kapil Dev, emerged as a dark-horse to the powerhouse of cricket. Before, India only had a lone victory in the two previous editions of the mega event. The 83 World Cup witnessed them beating the likes of England, Australia and West Indies. But it was not a smooth sail for the waves of odds against them were too high. It took a miraculous captain’s knock in the semis for India to reach the final. Reeling at 17-5, Kapil came and smashed his ways to 175, the then highest score by an ODI batsman, to help his team cross the penultimate step.
Finally, the D-Day arrived and fans back home were transfixed in drawing rooms, shops, clubs, offices and anywhere a TV set or a radio was found. Batting first, India were bundled out for a paltry total of 183. But that team was breeding with a different level of self-belief and the way they bowled and fielded oozed out the same. Madan Lal and Mohinder Amarnath were the star of the finals as India bowled their opponents out for 140 to script the finest and the most unpredictable history of cricket.
The visuals that were followed have been inscribed in the memory of every Indian cricket fan. Amarnath, after taking the final Windies wicket, ran towards the dressing room so did the entire team. So did the millions of Indians, but not towards the inside of the prestigious Lord’s changing room, but to outside, to the ground, for that victory had broken the shackles and the barriers for the country, to emerge with a rejuvenated identity and an imposing belief that it can walk the same ground with the other superpowers of the world.