Perhaps the most intriguing performance in the 1983 Prudential World Cup has come from India. They made inglorious exits from the previous two World Cups, with a solitary win over East Africa in 1975 and experienced shock defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka in the 1979 World Cup.
But the Indians turned the 1983 World Cup into an Indian summer. For no-hopers India have become a force to reckon with in this class of cricket. Knowledgeable critics believe this meteoric rise is due to one man — Kapil Dev Nikhanj.
Apart from his record-breaking 175 against Zimbabwe, the India skipper has exhibited qualities of leadership which should augur well for Indian cricket. He is a good influence on the fielders and bowlers. His enthusiasm is contagious. In an exclusive interview, Kapil Dev spelled out the reasons for India’s spectacular performance.
On the composition of the team:
Yes, for the first time the players were selected for a limited-over cricket competition. In ’79, we played four Tests against England after the World Cup and so the criteria for selection was different. This time the selectors were free from Test match selection and considered the best ones for the job, I mean one-day cricket.
On the warm-up matches:
After the testing tour of the West Indies we did not take them seriously. Moreover, the wickets were sticky in almost all the matches and we just treated them as warm-up matches in the true sense. We did not bother winning.
On upsetting the West Indies:
In this type of cricket, runs come even if half of the side is out for a poor total. We were in a similar situation in our first match against the champions at 141 for five. But Yashpal came good and boosted our total to 262. The West Indies after losing Viv Richards could not step up the scoring and succumbed under pressure.
On losing to Australia at Trent Bridge:
Kim Hughes won the toss on a good batting strip and the Australians piled up a massive total. I thought that they could have been restricted if our fielding has been accurate. There could have been more run-outs.
On his own record score:
Against Zimbabwe well, I went for my shots and I got them. It was necessary.
On reaching the semi-final:
Once we beat the West Indies at Old Trafford I expected India to make it. The win over the West Indies meant that we had to beat Zimbabwe twice
and Australia once which we did.
On beating England:
A lot of things were written by critics that India were a walk-over side... that India would gift England a place in the final. It hurt us a lot. I wanted to prove them wrong. And we did it. Basically, I do not believe in big names. On their day, even the underdogs can cause and upset and that is what happened to the West Indies, Australia and to England. Overconfidence let England down.
And finally his view on the Indian team:
We have done exceptionally well. Cricket is a team game and we have played as a team.
This Kapil Dev interview was conducted by then MiD DAY writer G Viswanath. It appeared on June 27, 1983