Mumbai, Feb 12: Thirty-three years ago, the Prudential Cup final saw two finalists in West Indies and India. Cut to 2016, the two teams are meeting in a repeat clash albeit in an under-19 cricket World Cup final at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium in Mirpur, Bangladesh. The circumstances though are in stark contrast this time.
When India were to play the mighty West Indians in the Prudential Cup, India’s cricket hadn’t reached here what it has now. Moreover, it was the culmination of big dreams the Indians have realised thereafter.
Playing West Indies those days alone required a lot of guts and winning against them was thought to be an upset of sorts, which Kapil Dev’s India did in style. Under the leadership of Clive LLoyd, there were stalwarts like Viv Richards, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes besides the battery of fast bowlers — Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner, Michael Holding and Any Roberts — who would send shivers down the spine to any batsmen who had the prospect of facing them. (Also Read: Viv Richards backs West Indies stars in World Twenty20 dispute)
Despite all odds, Balwinder Singh Sandhu drew the first blood in sending back Greenidge with a gem of a delivery. That lifted the spirit and India managed to defend a paltry total of 183.
However, this time around the team has that famous victory as a piece of document only as none in this colts side was even born. Their coach-cum-mentor Rahul Dravid was merely a nine-year-old waiting to follow in the footsteps of Sunil Gavaskars and Kapil Devs when India emerged as power in world cricket.
Also, India colts are favourites this time against an unpredictable West Indies who almost snatched a defeat from the jaws of victory against Bangladesh in the semi-final on Thursday. They neither have the talent and quality they had 30 years ago nor they look convincing nowadays.
India, on the other hand, are a much balanced side under captain and wicket-keeper Ishan Kishan. Players like Sarfaraz Khan, Anmolpreet Singh, Aarman Jaffer, Washington Sundar have created a flutters in the world cricket and should be bookies’ favourite choice on the Valentines’ Day.
Dravid had already said that they don’t take any team lightly and that was absolutely a Dravid-like gesture. The Wall, even at his peak, never took things lightly and always came out with flying colours against toughest of the opponents. On the contrary, the West Indies colts’ coach Graeme West should not be under pressure, particularly when they turn up for the final as they are truly underdogs.
In 1983, India wouldn’t have criticised had they lost the final, but this time the pressure is on the Indians as West Indies are in the then India’s position. West’s boys are no doubt talented, but the way they squandered the opportunity to register a thumping win against hosts Bangladesh in semis, they can only hope for something better tomorrow.
India have already won the title thrice (2000, 2008, 2012) and would want to bring back the glory, while West Indies will be hoping to win their maiden title, that too via a massive upset. A role reversal after 33 long years.