Kapil Dev: 30 years on, I can still recall India World Cup victory
The 30th anniversary of India’s first-ever World Cup win was overshadowed by Dhoni & Co’s exploits in the ICC Champions Trophy last week. Indian cricket may have had reached quite a few peaks after that, including regaining the title after 28 long years, but the romance of June 25, 1983 still endures for the Indian cricket fan.
In an exclusive interview with Gulf News last week, Kapil Dev went down the down memory lane and came out with some hitherto unknown and rare gems from that day at the Lord’s. Following are the excerpts:
It’s been 30 years since Kapil’s Devils first won the World Cup. Can I ask you to go down the memory lane and relive those victorious moments…
When we returned India, we realised how the countrymen had celebrated the win! Everybody was over the moon. Some of them said that the August 15, 1947 came back.
We had won many trophies before and after that like the team under MSD are winning now. But the joy of that day is something different. May be because it was the first time we had won the coveted World Cup. Each year for these 30 years, I start receiving phone calls and texts from the night of June 24 the way I receive the same for my birthday!
Your wife Romi had apparently returned to the hotel when you were all out with only 183 runs on the board.
Yeah, she thought we would not be able to win with that kind of a score. In fact, there were not many who had faith upon us after our innings was over. So she left the ground after we finished for 183. She thought she would not be able to digest our defeat.
What pep talk you gave in the dressing room during the lunch-break after your team bundled out for 183?
Strategy? Nothing! I just said that we should try our best. Dilse khelo [play with your heart]. We could reach the final because we had played good cricket and should continue doing the same in the last innings of the tournament.
People say that the turning point of the match was the catch you took to get rid of Viv Richards. Even Madan Lal, the bowler, endorses the view.
It was an important catch but it is difficult to pinpoint any particular moment for our victory. Every small contribution actually paved the way to achieve the target. What would have happened if Balwinder Singh Sandhu did not get Gordon Greenidge early with that dream delivery? Roger Binny took Desmond Haynes’ wicket early. There were numerous little incidents which eventually led us to lift the trophy.
Madan Lal insisted to give him an over when Viv was going great guns. In fact, we saw that he did snatch the ball from you. Was it true?
Yes, he did. And he always reminds me of this incident whenever we meet! He had bowled really well in the final. He came to me and said that he had an intuition that he would get Viv. He literally demanded an over and obliged!
Nobody considered your team as favourites before the tournament. How do you look back at it?
No, I don’t feel angry at all. After all, I am ageing too. I only remember that one person, Kim Hughes of Australia had predicted before the tournament that India would be the champions.
Was it a fluke?
Well, the Caribbeans were far superior on paper but we could utilize the English conditions better during the tournament. Mind you, we had won against bigger opponents, matches after matches. I think nobody can deny that. How could then it be termed as a fluke?
Can you recall something from the dressing room after the match?
Oh, that was an experience! It became a public place… free for all. I really do not know how they could enter the dressing room or from where they did come but everybody was hugging each other.
We were staying in a hotel which was opposite to the ground. I still cannot remember how we reached the hotel. We were surrounded by thousands of supporters. Nobody ate anything that night. In fact, there was nothing to eat. Later, I heard that Sandeep Patil and Ravi Shastri went out to Leicester Square at 4am in search of some food.
Is it true that before every game, Patil would say: Boss, this our last match of the tournament?
Yeah, it became a superstition!
Krish Srikkanth told me he had played a dhol [a drum] after the final.
As I said, it was a free for all. Everybody was happy to do anything. [Roger] Binny danced bhangra for the first time that night.
The current Indian team have been promised a bonus of Rs10 million [Dh616,930] each for winning the Champions Trophy. How much did you get in 1983?
Why do you make us laugh? The BCCI president NKP Salve had given each of us Rs25,000. Later, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had granted Rs100,000 for each member of the team. The BCCI had organised a function where the legendary Lata Mangeshkar sang.
However, the joy of winning the World Cup cannot be compared with any amount of money.