This is the third time that India has reached the Cricket World Cup finals. The record of the team is split. First time in 1983, it won close but won a tournament that went on to change the history of the Indian cricket – and probably the world cricket. Second time in 2003, 20 years after the first win, it lost badly to Australia – by 125 runs.
Today, we will take up the field the third time in the finals. Hopefully to win. The match is in Mumbai, the home of Indian cricket and the final contenders are Sri Lanka against the home team.
My mind goes back to the 1983 win, however. I still remember where I was during the match. I was in Shimla, visiting my cousins. There were two houses – my Uncle and my Aunt’s. We used to alternate between both the houses. When the Indian innings started I went to watch the match in the house next to my Uncle’s. Very soon, the innings took a turn for the bad. It was quite obvious that the Indian team was headed for a very low score. The West Indian pacers were walking away with the Indian wickets.
That was when I gave up and went out to the market. By the time I came back it was night. The West Indian innings was going on and the match was going in an interesting direction and it seemed that Viv Richards would just take it all home. And then came the catch. By Kapil Dev. That one catch can safely define the turn around of the entire Indian cricket. No one incident in isolation can be said for have been responsible for how Indian cricket changed as much as that ONE catch. Richards gone, the rest of the players didn’t survive long.
It was very late. The transistor was on and I was glued to it. As Mohinder Amarnath came into ball and clipped the bails of Michael Holdings, the world for us Indians had changed. I am not sure how I slept that night, but it was a sleep of complete contentment. Of hope and of possibilities.
That game showed how one match could uplift a nation like nothing else can.
As the Indian team takes field for the 3rd time, it may well be reminded of that day. When the odds against India were exorbitantly high. And yet, we won.
Do you remember where you were that night? Do you remember how (and how much of it) you followed that match? What did you “witness” it on – TV, radio? Why don’t you share?