“A shock result that shattered the serenity of world cricket...”

At first glance, this line in the opening sequence of a documentary seems to be just a backhanded compliment for India’s cricket world cup triumph in 1983. Almost as if the Indian team did something bad that they were not supposed to do. How could they shatter the serene world of cricket where things, more often than not, played to the script till then? How DARE they.

But, read it again, and it makes more sense. That Indian team led by Kapil Dev indeed had no business becoming World Cup semi-finalists or finalists, let alone win the whole thing. That Indian team led by Kapil Dev faced odds of 66/1 to win the World Cup. That Indian team led by Kapil Dev were coming into the 1983 tournament as rank outsiders because their predecessors had poor outings in 1975 and 1979, including a defeat to unheralded Sri Lanka. That Indian team led by Kapil Dev had the weight of previous teams massively under-performing in England historically: in all formats, India had played 42 times in England and won twice (a Test against England, an ODI against East Africa).

Kapil’s Devils dared to do the impossible.

It was a shock result, indeed, that they beat the mighty West Indies at the Lord’s on 25 June, 1983. It shattered the established world order and (for better or worse) put India on the path to the global behemoth they are in the game today.

India's record in England prior to 1983

Matches Won Draw / NR Lost
All formats: 42 2 11 29
ODIs: 10 1 0 9

Anecdotes galore: Reliving the famous 1983 World Cup win in the words of Kapil Dev and Co

The documentary that was made to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the 1983 Cricket World Cup final, in which India defeated the West Indies, details the country’s greatest sporting achievement (arguably) of the 20th century.

Titled 1983: India’s World Cup, the hour-long documentary features footage and photographs rarely seen from England and India. It also captures the places, faces and personalities that were central to India’s World Cup achievement. The documentary also incorporates archival footage of the two biggest matches from the tournament as well as revealing interviews with key players (both Indian and otherwise).

In an event in Mumbai in 2018, the team of that World Cup (at least most of them) had reassembled at the time the movie on their journey was to be launched (83, featuring Ranveer Singh as Kapil Dev). It was instantly clear then, as it is in this documentary, how much of the title win was down to the self-belief one man had: Kapil Dev’s captaincy was still an unknown factor before the tournament began for the rest of the world, but his teammates started realising early on that there was a madness about this guy from Haryana who thinks he can conquer the world.

The madness soon became infectious, the belief became wide-spread, and not long after, the miracle was on once Kapil played the great 175* innings from 17/5 against Zimbabwe. The match that was not telecast, is featured in this documentary with a few moments of audio commentary that is enough to send a shiver down your spine

In one of the player interviews, team captain Kapil Dev is beaming when he talks about how no one gave India a chance during the tournament. In another, he reveals that he would have fielded had he won the toss in the final on a pitch that was so green that it made Kapil spin away in disgust after Clive Lloyd got it right. But having lost the toss, India batted first. (And the rest is history.)

But in the most understated line of all, Kapil says “I don’t think I had a mind to think” as he describes the catch that dismissed Viv Richards. THAT catch, that put India on their way to the famous win.

Ultimately, as player of the semi-final and final Mohinder Amarnath put it, this was a happy-go-lucky Indian team that played hard on the field and partied harder in the evenings, and eventually, riding on their captain’s inspired leadership, changed Indian cricket (or even Indian sport) forever.

Watch part I here (till the semi-final win):

Part I of Prudential's documentary: '1983: India’s World Cup'

Watch part II here (all about the final):

Part II of Prudential's documentary: '1983: India’s World Cup'

Bonus viewing:

Kapil Dev, Madan Lal & Srikkanth talk about 1983