India's brilliance started at Berbice

This year, India will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 1983 World Cup win. But the victory which gave Kapil Dev’s team the self belief to beat the all-conquering West Indies team was achieved exactly today 30 years ago — at the Albion Sports Complex in Berbice, a sugar area in Guyana populated with people of East Indian descent.

Ashok Malhotra (left), Kiran More, Maninder Singh and Ravi Shastri (right) in a helicopter during their journey to the ground in Berbice in 1983. Pic/Kiran More’s personal collection

The hosts were in unexpected trouble straightaway when Sunil Gavaskar got India to a fiery start with Ravi Shastri at the other end. They put on 93 before Shastri was dismissed caught behind by Malcolm Marshall for 30. Gavaskar was run out 10 short of what would have been his maiden ODI century. Skipper Kapil Dev smashed 72 off only 38 deliveries (7x4, 3x6).

According to Tony Cozier’s West Indies Cricket Annual 1983, spearhead Michael Holding conceded 28 runs in his first four overs and the, “West Indies bowling and fielding was unusually shoddy, Kapil having two chances, and the Indians made merry.”

Indeed. They reached 282 for five in 47 overs — an unprecedented total in India’s ODI history against West Indies.

Amarnath’s 30
Mohinder Amarnath chipped in with 30 and Yashpal Sharma who was debutant Winston Davis's first international wicket, scored 23. “I don’t remember much about the game, but can’t forget the helicopter journey to Berbice. The pilot allowed me to hold the joystick and that was great fun,” Davis (now paralysed neck-down) told MiD DAY on Wednesday from his home in Worcestershire in England.

Kapil Dev, who led from the front to smash a vital 72 off 38 deliveries. Pic/ Getty images

Kapil was not done with his heroics. He sent back Gordon Greenidge caught and bowled for 16 but, according to Kiran More, who was on the reserve bench, suffered an injury to his thumb, forearm and chest while completing his task.

Sandhu recalled Greenidge struggling against his inswingers before Kapil struck. Sandhu started the West Indian slide by trapping Desmond Haynes leg before. “Kapil told me, ‘get one wicket and your job is done.’ This helped me stay positive and think about getting wickets,” said Sandhu, who shattered Greenidge’s timber in the World Cup final at Lord’s in less than three months. Shastri claimed three wickets in his eight-over spell while Madan Lal dismissed dangermen Viv Richards (64) and Clive Lloyd (8) to help restrict the world champions to 255 for nine.

India thus beat West Indies for the first time in ODI cricket and the seeds for a grand performance in the World Cup were sown.

Dilip Vengsarkar, who stayed unbeaten on 18 off 19 deliveries, recalled hitting Davis for straight six, over the sightscreen, something that he repeated in the next game at Grenada off Andy Roberts in a game which West Indies won convincingly.

Vengsarkar top-scored for India in Grenada with 54 off 59 balls (5x4, 2x6).

Sandhu said that the West Indies, smarting from the defeat at Berbice, sent down two to three bouncers in an over.

Indian cricket team
The Indian team which toured the West Indies in 1983 is pictured at the CCI before their departure. Sitting: Mohinder Amarnath, S Venkataraghavan, Kapil Dev (captain), Hanumant Singh (manager), Syed Kirmani (W-K), Sunil Gavaskar, S Madan Lal. Standing: Gurusharan Singh, Ashok Malhotra, Arun Lal, Anshuman Gaekwad, Maninder Singh, Ravi Shastri, Dilip Vengsarkar, Balwinder Singh Sandhu, Yashpal Sharma, L Sivaramakrishnan and Kiran More. Pic/ West Indies Cricket Annual 1983

Kapil wrote...
In his autobiography 'By God’s Decree' with Vinay Verma (published by Harper and Row), Kapil Dev wrote: “This was the launching pad for our ultimate win over the Windies for the Prudential World Cup later on. This was the occasion we found the chink in West Indies’ one-day armour. The day we knew they had an Achilles heel. The awe was gone. They were human. We had stopped selling ourselves short.”

Madan Lal said: “Remember, it was rare for a team to beat the West Indies. They were the No 1 side and once we beat them, we believed we could do it again.”

Sandhu reckoned this game was a perfect example of team play. We batted, bowled and fielded well. In the World Cup, we always thought about what we did in Berbice. This game acted as a winning formula for the World Cup.” 

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