India's first title in the Cricket World Cup which came on June 25 39 years ago has changed the face of Indian cricket but for the players, the change was not instant but only came about around 10 years later, says the captain of the team and legendary cricketer Kapil Dev.
"It was not like the World Cup win changed our lives overnight. The next few months and next few years were all about the next match, the next series. It was only after 10 years that we started getting appreciated more, we got a lot of respect, and a lot of love from the fans. Today, we get more appreciation than those who won the title later because we were the first to win the World Cup," said Kapil Dev during a panel discussion with members of the 1983 World Cup-winning team on the occasion of the 39th anniversary of their triumph at Lord's.
To mark the occasion, 'The 1983 World Cup Opus', a limited edition coffee table book was also launched here on Saturday. The book immortalizes several unseen, unheard, and unforgettable moments of that campaign which culminated with India defeating the mighty West Indies, the two-time reigning champions, in the final at Lord's, defending a total of 183, the lowest target defended in a World Cup final so far and winning by 43 runs.
The panel discussion was moderated by noted commentator Harsha Bhogle who spoke to Kapil Dev, Mohinder Amarnath, Kirti Azad, Roger Binny, Syed Kirmani, Madan Lal, Sandip Patil, Balwinder Singh Sindhu, K Srikkanth, Dilip Vengsarkar and PR Man Singh, who was manager of the team. Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri joined the discussion virtually.
Asked how confident they were about their campaign before they left the Indian shores and did he ever imagine that he would win matches for India with his bowling instead of batting, Amarnath said the team was always confident about their abilities. "We always believed that we were the best. We had defeated West Indies in West Indies before the World Cup, they were considered invincible at that time, they had players like Joel Garner, Andy Roberts, Malcolm Marshall, and Michaell Holding. I was always confident about my bowling, I have done well earlier too against them and so always believed that we can do well if we played to our potential," said Amarnath.
The team members agreed that there were three key occasions when the match turned for India -- their opening match in which they shocked West Indies, the match against Zimbabwe at Tunbridge Wells in which Kapil Dev rescued India from a precarious 17/5 with a majestic unbeaten 175, and the final in which Kapil Dev plucked a memorable running catch off Viv Richards.
Madan Lal, who had to convince Kapil Dev to give him one more over as Richards was going great guns and had taken a few boundaries off the bowler, said he was more worried about Yashpal Sharma getting into Kapil's way as he went for the running catch.
"I had got him out a few times before that -- in a Test match and once in the West Indies too. With us defending on 183, I knew that Kapil would like to take me off the bowling whereas I wanted to bowl him one more over because I was confident of getting him. When I saw Kapil running for the catch, I was very confident because he was the best fielder among us. I was more worried about Yashpal as he too had taken off swiftly for the catch," remembered Madan Lal on Saturday.
For Kirti Azad, the memorable moment of the match was his dismissal of England allrounder and dangerman Ian Botham in the semifinal. "It was a mystery ball and I won't be able to replicate it today," he said.
Another memorable moment from that crucial semifinal win was the superb partnership between Yashpal Sharma and Mohinder Amarnath as they came together when India was in trouble.
"We decided to take things a bit slow and played cautiously. In those days matches lasted 60 overs and you had lunch and tea breaks. So when we went in during a break, nobody came to us and spoke to us. As we were going down the middle on resumption, I told Yashpal that we should increase the tempo now. I told him 'you play cautiously and I will go after the bowling. He said yes, Jimmy-pa.' But in the first over he sliced Bob Willis over the slips, then he square-cut him and went for his shots. At the end of every over I would tell him to play cautiously and he would say 'yes Jimmy-pa' and then go on to play some audacious shots," Amarnath recalled off Yashpal's 115-ball 61 and his memorable partnership with the cricketer who passed away due to Covid last year.
The 1983 World Cup Opus lists many such incidents and memories of the players, unseen pictures and unheard stories.
Only 1983 copies of the coffee table book will be released as a collectible item.