June 25, 1983, carries a special significance in the history of Indian cricket. On this day, Kapil Dev and his men did the unthinkable and defeated the mighty West Indies in the 1983 World Cup Final played at Lord’s, London. It was a feat, many Indian cricket fans in that era themselves didn’t believe would happen.
For many Indians, reaching the finals of the World Cup was itself a huge achievement, considering the team had managed to win only a single game in the last two World Cups. India were the clear underdogs going into the tournament and very little was expected from them.
West Indies, on the other hand, was the invincible team of that era, having won both the inaugural 1975 and 1979 World Cups and were chasing a hat-trick in 1983. The West Indies team comprised of some of the most legendary names to have ever played cricket ably led by Clive Lloyd. The openers were Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes followed by master blaster Vivian Richards and Clive Lloyd with Larry Gomes coming in the middle. The bowling attack comprised of the fab four of Malcolm Marshall, Sir Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, and Michael Holding, all having the ability to bowl in excess of 90 miles per hour.
After winning the toss, Clive Llyod asked India to have a bat. Things couldn’t have gotten to a worse start with India losing Sunil Gavaskar with only two runs on the board. Though Kris Srikkanth and Mohinder Amarnath tried to stabilise the innings, the wickets kept falling with India eventually getting bowled out for measly 183 runs from 54.4 overs. The one-day matches in this era used to be 60 overs long.
At the halfway stage of the match, any hopes of India causing an upset must have evaporated even among the most die-hard Indian fans. However, fate had other plans. Gordan Greenidge was first to go, getting bowled to an inswinging delivery by Balwinder Sandhu. In came Vivian Richards who was in an attacking mood, scoring seven boundaries in his innings of 33. However, a miscued shot against Madan Lal was caught beautifully by Kapil Dev running backward, one of the most famous and beautiful catches ever in Indian Cricket history.
Soon Roger Binny got the all-important wicket of Clive Llyod leaving West India at 66 for 5, still requiring 117 runs more. West Indies tried to make a comeback with Jeff Dujon and Malcolm Marshall stitching a 43 run partnership, but till then, writing was on the wall, and West Indies were bowled out for 140 runs. India had achieved the impossible and won the match by 43 runs.
This win not only changed the cricketing world’s outlook towards India but also shaped the Indian cricket and culture around it completely. It took another 28 years for India to repeat World Cup glory, this time led by M.S. Dhoni against Sri Lanka in 2011 in front of the Indian crowd at Wankhede. Today, the number 183 has become a symbol of a never-die attitude which was shown by Kapil Dev and his men on June 25, 1983.
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