Friday, June 25, 2010

Glory Days - 2

India had collapsed from 90 for two to 130 for seven.

MCC members sat back and tried to praise the West Indian bowling, but a pall of disappointment settled over the crowd; the final now seemed as predictably one-sided as everyone has feared. Patil anchored the wagging tail, with Madan Lal, Kirmani and Sandhu all pluckily reaching double figures, but the Indian total of 183 all out in 54.4 overs appeared totally inadequate, an easy target for the favorites.

Some West Indians were grinning as they walked off the field, clapping Andy Roberts off for taking three wickets. In their minds, may be, the job was done. In fairness, everybody thought so. Between innings, queues formed beside the Lord's payphones as people made plans for the early evening.

Greenidge and Haynes looked cheerful as they emerged to launch the innings, and even when Greenidge was bowled for one, shouldering arms to Sandhu, the general response was not excitement that the final could yet be a genuine battle, but pleasure that Viv Richards would have more time to bat.

The hero of the 1979 World Cup final appeared to relish the grand stage once again, slipping quickly into his rhythm, accelerating the run rate. The Indian captain recalls: 'My line was just outside the off stump, and I was aiming to get Viv out with my outswinger. Both those balls looked pretty good, and each time I threw up arms expecting an edge, only to turn and see the umpire waving his arm to signal another boundary!'

Richards dashed to 31 in as many balls, and the West Indians appeared to be cruising to victory at 50 for one when India's second and third string bowlers unexpectedly applied the brakes. Madan Lal and Roger Binny settled into a steady line and length and started to produce exceptional swing. Umpire 'Dickie' Bird remembers thinking to himself, if only India had made 240, they might have had a chance.

Kapil Dev sensed the tide and beginning to turn, and as he waited to hand the ball to Lal at the start of another over from the Nursery End, the Indian captain casually approached the umpire.

'You know,' Kapil said, 'I think we will win this match after all.'

'I see,' Bird chirped.

'Yes, they think it's too easy.'

'Do they?'

'They'll get themselves out if we keep the ball up and bowl straight.'

The following 42 minuts of play stunned the sporting world.

Haynes drove carelessly, uppishly at Lal and was caught by Binny at cover; Clive Lloyed strode out to join Richards and promptly pulled his hamstring!

Richards instinctive response was to attack and regain control. He pulled Lal towards mid-wicket, bu the ball skied off the top edge. Kapil took responsibility, sprinted backwards to get under the ball, and beneath the shadow of the Father Time wind vane took an outstanding catch!

The West Indies had crumbled from 50 for one to 66 for five.

At 119 for six, with only 65 runs required from 18 overs and four wickets still standing, the West Indians appeared to have withered the Indian storm.

Kapil needed a breakthrough, and he called 'Jimmy' Amarnath into the attack. His career had been threatened when his skull was fractured bya Hadlee bouncer in 1979, but he completed a full rehabilitation, recovered his nerve, and regained his place in the Indian side.

Amarnath bowled at Dujon, a drifting delivery just short of length, deceiving the batsman into playing down the wrong line. As the bails rattled, the Indian fielders leaped with delight!

Within moments, the scoreboard flapped on to 126 for nine.

Three overs later, his dark eyes glazed in recognition of the moment, Amarnath bowled again, a floating slow delivery that struck Michael Holding on the pad, square and adjacent.

'Howzat!' Amarnath enquired.

Umpire Bird raised his finger and, his sparkling Yorkshire eyes almost smiling, declard: 'That's out and, gentlemen, may I thank you for a wonderful game of cricket.'

The West Indies had been dismissed for 140, in 52 overs.

India had won by 43 runs. World Champions on June 25, 1983!

India did deserve to win; they could have done no more. They might have been 66-1 outsiders before the tournament began, several thousand to one when they were 17 for five against Zimbabwe, and at least 100-1 between innings in the final; yet the fact remained that they had defeated Australia, the odds-on West Indies (twice), and the hosts, England.

-Glory Days, Edward Griffiths, Viking

1 comment:

Shankar said...

Thank you for posting this. Makes me feel young.