The Kapil Dev-led team were complete underdogs going into the tournament, but the way they shut out the noise and scripted a fairytale story which culminated in them lifting the coveted trophy at the ‘mecca of cricket’ – Lord’s – sent the world into a frenzy.
In more ways than one, this win was a huge watershed moment for Indian cricket and Indian sport overall.
India defeated the mighty West Indies, the two-time World Champions, in the epic final to clinch their maiden title. After posting just 183 on the board, the Indian bowlers wrapped up the West Indies innings for 140, claiming a 43-run win and the title.
The first Windies wicket that fell in that unforgettable final was that of the legendary Gordon Greenidge. The bowler was Balwinder Singh Sandhu. The ball pitched well outside off stump and curled in. Greenidge was looking to leave the ball and it crashed into his off stump. Greenidge had to walk back for 1 and the Windies were down to 5-1.
“That was an epic final. We believed in ourselves. There was a lot of talk ahead of the final. I claimed the big wicket of Gordon Greenidge. It will always be memorable for me,” Balwinder Sandhu said while talking to TimesofIndia.com and recalling that epic final.
Madan Lal, who is fondly called ‘Maddi Paa’ by his teammates and his then captain Kapil Dev, claimed three wickets in the final. He dismissed Desmond Haynes, Viv Richards, and Larry Gomes in the summit clash.
According to Madan Lal, the pressure was on the West Indies who were chasing their third title on the trot.
“We didn’t have any sort of pressure on us. We didn’t go in as the favourites. No one believed in us. But we were confident in our abilities. We took it one match at a time. The players were charged up. When we reached the final, we thought we have done our job, but Kapil’s words after we scored 183 charged us up. We gave everything in the final and fought for every single run. Winning the final was a great great thing for us. In the final, every single thing went in our favour. We fought against all odds. We fell, but we got up and started again – this was our approach in the 1983 World Cup,” Madan Lal told TimesofIndia.com.
“For us, the Windies were the best and top team. They had already won two World Cup titles. The pressure was on the West Indies to win the World Cup for a third time, not us. We played our game and we believed in ourselves. We played without any pressure because millions of fans were supporting us. They were doing ‘havans’ etc to support us. There is a saying that ‘jab dawai kaam nahi karti, tab dua kaam karti hai’. We are thankful to all our fans who believed in us, cheered for us, and supported us. Country first, this was the passion and zeal we all had,” Lal, who scored 17 and had figures of 3-31 with the ball in the 1983 World Cup final further recounted.
KAPIL’S MAJESTIC 175 vs ZIMBABWE
For Balwinder, Mohinder Amarnath (Man of the match in the semis vs England and the final vs WI) dismissing Michael Holding to seal the deal for India and captain Kapil lifting the trophy will always be unforgettable moments for him.
“Kapil Dev lifting the Cup. It was a magical moment for me. I still feel that moment. I still get goosebumps when I recall that moment. No one believed us but we believed in ourselves. My favourite match was the Zimbabwe game and I will never forget that match. It was the toughest game for us. We were down and out. But Kapil Dev ensured we keep our heads held high. He brought us back into the game. He scored a majestic 175 runs,” Balwinder Sandhu told TimesofIndia.com.
(Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for The Red Sea International Film Festival)
The match vs Zimbabwe was an extremely crucial one for India to win. They found themselves at 17-5, with their backs against the wall.
“We were 5 down, but it was Kapil who gave us big hope. He single-handedly won the match for us. We were just clapping and shouting from the dressing room,” Sandhu said.
The 175* vs Zimbabwe in fact remained Kapil Dev’s highest ODI score. Unfortunately there is no footage of that match because the BBC was on strike that day.
THE VIV RICHARDS WICKET IN THE FINAL
Madan Lal meanwhile also recalled how he and Kapil together plotted revenge against Viv Richards in the final. After Madan was getting smashed by Richards, Kapil decided to bring someone else into the attack. Madan had revenge on his mind and he rushed to Kapil and asked for one more over. Kapil refused but Madan managed to convince him. And, the bowler did the job for his team by sending the dangerous Richards back to the pavilion. It was Kapil Dev who took a brilliant catch running backwards off Madan Lal’s bowling.
“Every player has their own style of play and everyone has confidence in their abilities. We all were calm and calculated and we were waiting for the opponent to make a mistake. I got hit for a couple of fours by Viv Richards. I wanted to bowl again and wanted to give it back to him. I told Kapil that I wanted to bowl again and try something else. He was not ready but I managed to convince him. These things happen sometimes in your life. I asked for another over. It was not like I was not bowling well, I was bowling well,” Madan Lal recalled.
“Viv was such a great player and was hitting us all over the ground. Kapil looked into my eyes and gave the next over to me. He showed confidence in me and I didn’t disappoint him and got Viv’s wicket. It was not Madan Lal, Mohinder Amarnath, or any other player, it was a complete team effort that won India the World Cup. Every single member of our team was a star,” Madan Lal further told TimesofIndia.com.
‘KAPIL WILL ALWAYS BE OUR CAPTAIN’
Leading from the front, making his team believe that they are not underdogs, hungry for wins, and being a guiding force, Kapil was a real hero for his teammates.
“Kapil Dev will always be my captain. He is our captain forever. Because Kapil is an instinctive captain and he led from the front. His hunger for wins never died. We were ready to die for him on the ground. That was the kind of commitment I had for him. Such love and affection I have for him. Even now, I say I can do anything for him. He once said to me I hate losing. He said fight till your last breath. I will always have love, respect and affection for him. I want to give credit to Sunil (Gavaskar) also. He allowed me to grow as a cricketer. He would give me that freedom to explore and grow as a cricketer. Both Kapil and Sunil’s captaincy styles were different but I enjoyed playing under both. Sunil allowed me to grow as a cricketer and Kapil taught me to be hungry for wins,” Balwinder Sandhu told TimesofIndia.com.
“Kapil is the best all-rounder produced by any country. He has checked every box – bowling, batting, or fielding. You just can’t compare Kapil Dev with anyone in the world. Sunil Gavaskar is the finest batsman I have ever seen in the world. Similarly, Kapil is the world’s best all-rounder. I have seen great batsmen but no one is close to Sunil Gavaskar. Both Gavaskar and Kapil were amazing, skill-wise and determination-wise. They kept the Indian flag flying high all the time. Definitely, he (Kapil) will always be my captain,” Madan Lal told TimesofIndia.com.
THE CHAMPAGNE BOTTLES
There are so many stories that we have heard about the 1983 World Cup final. One amongst them is about the champagne bottles and how they were all kept in the West Indies dressing room, because everyone expected the Windies to win the final vs India. For most people it was a mere formality.
“That’s true. Whenever any team won any match, one of their members would go and grab the champagne bottles. I wanted a photograph of myself with a champagne bottle (laughs). That’s why I went and grabbed them. It was hot champagne and I grabbed it with a lot of excitement. I accidentally opened it. Kapil Dev and my other teammates looked at me angrily. I said sorry to them. They started laughing then”. Madan Lal further told TimesofIndia.com.
1983 GOLDEN JOURNEY NOW A MOVIE
The golden journey of the 1983 World Cup team has also been turned into a movie, with Ranveer Singh playing Kapil Dev and directed by Kabir Khan.
“It is a proud moment for all of us World Cup-winning players of 1983 that someone has made a movie on our achievement. We all achieved the 1983 glory as a team. And the way Kabir Khan has showcased our glory, achievement, and the hard work we had put in, is so so wonderful. I have seen the movie. It is brilliant,” Balwinder Sandhu said.
“Kabir Khan has made a wonderful movie. Ranveer as Kapil Dev is just amazing. He ensured that he was loved by everyone. All the actors have done a fantastic job. They all worked really hard to pick up our characteristics. How we used to play, walk, talk, carry ourselves, dressing sense, all the actors have done a wonderful job. For people who were not born at that time, it’s a chance for them to relive that historic moment. It is motivational,” Madan Lal further said.