With the 2019 edition of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup set to begin on May 30, we look back at the most memorable moments from the tournament’s four-decade-long history. You can read the entire series here.
Moment No 4
Every World Cup final throws up a moment that defines where the game was won and lost, something that would set the tone for the eventual winners.
In 1975, it was Viv Richards’ fielding; Mike Gatting’s irresponsible reverse sweep was the biggest talking point of the 1987 final; Wasim Akram showed why he is the ‘Sultan of Swing’ in 1992 while in the previous edition, Mitchell Starc castling Brendon McClullum was a perfect launch pad for Australia to romp to their fifth title.
In 1983, Kapil Dev’s breathtaking catch to remove Sir Viv Richards, the best batsman in the world at the time, entered cricketing folklore. It was a crucial moment in the game and the India captain showed magnificent athleticism, judgement, leadership skills, and composure to hang on to the ball.
West Indies, who were chasing a hat-trick of World Cup wins at the time, never recovered after the fall of Richards and India bulldozed their way to the top of the cricketing ladder. Kapil Dev’s side, whether it was before the start of the tournament or in the final, were not given a chance. But the victory in 1983 was a reward for some fearless cricket that ‘Kapil’s Devils’ produced over the course of a month.
India had laboured to a modest 183 after Clive Lloyd opted to field first. With very few demons on the Lord’s wicket, the champagne was literally kept on ice during the innings break. Few gave India a chance given West Indies’ mighty batting order. Lloyd’s team was akin to a gravy train, crushing everyone in their path, home and away.
But there was a glimmer of hope. The Indians had beaten the Windies in the early stages of the tournament but the Calypso brigade soon found their groove. Richards in particular was purring. India didn’t have anything close to the fearsome foursome of Andy Roberts, Malcom Marshall, Michael Holding and Joel Garner.
What Indians had was a spirited group of medium-pacers who refused to raise the white flag. But their task was cut out as they didn’t have many runs to defend. Despite the early loss of Gordon Greenidge in the chase, normal service resumed quickly. Richards cut, pulled and drove with authority in a manner only he could. Madan Lal removed Desmond Haynes but Richards showed no signs of slowing down.
Lal then surprised Richards with a short delivery and the latter mistimed his hook shot, the ball went miles up in the air. Kapil Dev, stationed at mid-on, made the dash towards deep mid-wicket. His temerity would drastically change the contest.
Running backwards and maintaining balance under the ball is not the easiest of skills by any means. Even in the recently concluded Indian Premier League, catches went down by the dozen. Here, it was a prized wicket at stake.
Kapil Dev made no mistake and sent the Indians fans into delirium. A handful of them ran in from the boundary ropes to embrace their captain’s piece of magic on the field.
India create history
When Larry Gomes and Lloyd fell in quick succession, the writing was on the wall for West Indies. India could sniff an almighty upset. Jeff Dujon and Marshall showed resistance but Mohinder Amarnath came to the party, and skittled through the lower-order.
India won by 43 runs to stop the West Indian juggernaut. The win would go on to change the landscape of the sport in the country forever. Kapil Dev’s success inspired many a boy and girl from the smaller towns to take up the sport. India’s stock in the top echelons of world cricket also saw a tectonic shift.
India co-hosted the following edition and gradually became a superpower. But a second World Cup triumph, though, had to wait for another 20-odd years. One could often hear Indian cricket fans in the 1980s say, “If Kapil can’t win a match with the ball, he will with the bat. If neither of them work, he will deliver on the field.”
The ‘Devil’ had well and truly slayed the ‘King’.