blew away Windies
eyes on WC first-timers
It would take the injured Sania at least four weeks to return to competitive tennis.
IN THE NEWS
Abhijit Chatterjee recalls the magic moments of the 1983 World Cup final and the celebrations that followed
After two forgettable campaigns in the World Cup in 1975 and 1979, India started as rank outsiders in the 1983 edition. The bookmakers, too, were giving very long odds to Kapil’s Devils, as the team came to be known as the tournament progressed. Though India's showing in the one-day game had improved steadily in the early part of 1983, not even diehard Indian fans gave them a chance of entering the final, let alone winning it.
In Chandigarh, the team’s progress was followed with great interest, especially because city lad Kapil Dev was leading the squad. Most of the sports journalists knew him personally and had seen him grow up from a schoolboy cricketer to India’s captain.
The Chandigarh Press Club had just come into existence and it had acquired its first colour TV set. As India reached the final, a handful of sports journalists in the city decided to watch the match on TV at the club on June 25. As the services at the club were not yet fully functional, food and other refreshments were arranged from outside so that the match could be watched uninterrupted.
Joining the journalists at the club was Kapil’s coach and mentor Desh Prem Azad. (Although Desh, as he is called by his friends, knew that his protege had it in him to bring the Cup home, he did not say so till the climax of the final).
As India were pitted against the mighty West Indies, who were aiming for a hat-trick of titles, it’s doubtful that Desh would have been taken seriously had he made his announcement at the beginning of the final.
India batted first and when they were all out for 183 in 54.4 overs (that was the last World Cup in which 60-over matches were played), very few, including those assembled at the club, thought India could defend the total. After all, the West Indies had the likes of Vivian Richards, Gordon Greenidge, Clive Lloyd and Desmond Haynes in their batting line-up. But the fire still burnt in the Indians. The West Indies lost their first wicket at five as Greenidge was bowled by Balwinder Sandhu, who was an ideal foil to Kapil with the new ball. But as Richards took command of the proceedings, it seemed that the game was slipping away from the Indians.
The turning point came when the hard-hitting Richards tried to pull a delivery from Madan Lal. He mistimed the shot and Kapil sprinted in a do-or-die effort to take the catch. At this stage, Desh predicted that India were in with a chance to grab the Cup. And his words proved prophetic as the West Indies lost wickets at regular intervals to be all out for 140 runs.
Under the inspiring leadership of Kapil, three players from Punjab — Mohinder Amarnath (man of the match in the final), Yash Pal Sharma and Madan Lal — played a stellar role in the landmark victory.
The joy of the group at the club knew no bounds. Desh, who went on to receive the first Dronacharya Award for shaping the careers of Kapil Dev, Chetan Sharma, Ashok Malhotra and Yog Raj Singh as well as innumerable cricketers who played for their state teams in the Ranji Trophy, quickly returned to the club with bottles of champagne and Scotch whiskey (then not so freely available in India). The celebrations continued well into the night.
Ten days after India’s historic (and solitary) triumph in the World Cup, Kapil came to Chandigarh for just one day to meet his family. In fact, barring his family members, nobody in the city had any information about the visit.
When I caught up with him at his residence in Chandigarh’s Sector 16 with family members, friends and neighbours, he readily agreed to talk about Indian cricket and the World Cup in particular. (In those days, players were not bound by the gag orders of the Board of Control for Cricket in India as they are now). The Indian captain looked tired and short of sleep after all the celebrations and travelling.
The importance of fielding in one-day cricket was highlighted by Kapil on that sunny day of July 6, 1983, when he said: "I do not want a player who scores a century but does not give his best while fielding. I would prefer a cricketer who scores poorly but fields with alertness." (He was referring to Sunil Gavaskar, who was dropped for a match of the World Cup and in his place the current BCCI Chairman of Selectors Dilip Vengsarkar was given a chance).
He also spoke of the biased attitude of the World Cup organisers towards the Indian team, the grand celebrations in Mumbai, the problems faced by Indian cricketers and the need for the BCCI to pay more to players at all levels.
Kapil returned to the city on July 11 for the inauguration of his newly constructed hotel in Sector 35, as also to attend a public reception given by the Chandigarh Administration at Tagore Theatre. Kapil was accompanied by Krish Srikanth (yet to add a second "k" to his name), Yash Pal Sharma, Madan Lal, Dilip Vengsarkar, Ravi Shastri, Balwinder Sandhu and Sunil Valson.
During the visit to the City Beautiful, the cricketers were mobbed wherever they went, be it the airport, the hotel or the theatre. As it wasn’t yet the era of tight security, men and women, boys and girls readily received autographs, posed for photographs and had a great time as they managed to get close to their heroes.
All eyes on WC first-timers
These cricketers will be playing in their first World Cup, but such is their reputation that they will be expected to deliver the goods in every match. Proven match-winners, these star performers, if they get going, will make the difference between their teams going home early or returning with the coveted World Cup trophy.
Michael Hussey: He made his debut at the ripe old age (in cricketspeak) of 28, late by any standard, but when you are an Australian cricketer it is understandable. With the team packed with talent, Hussey had to wait a while. The wait has been worthwhile.
In 61 ODIs, he has scored 1,739 runs at an average of 67 (strike rate 91). Such was his explosive debut that his batting average did not drop below 100 in his first 29 one-dayers. His appetite for runs can be gauged from the fact that he holds the Australian record for the most runs in domestic cricket — 15,000 plus. Aptly nicknamed Mr Cricket, the 2006 One-Day Cricketer Of The Year is also an excellent fielder.
Kevin Pietersen: South Africa’s loss has been England’s gain. Pietersen (26) had the talent and temperament to succeed at the highest level but the infamous quota system adopted by his home country South Africa denied him a place in the national team.
Not the one to sit idle and rue his fate, Pietersen, the Wisden Cricketer of the Year 2006, applied to play for England and in 2004 got the call-up. He grabbed the opportunity with both hands and averaged 104 in his first three one-day innings during the tour of Zimbabwe. He underlined his prowess with a solid unbeaten century against the South Africans in early 2005. He cemented his place in the English team with his heroics in the historic Ashes series in 2005.
Recently, during England’s 0-5 Ashes whitewash at the hands of the Aussies, Pietersen was one of the few batsmen who took on the Aussie juggernaut. Though he missed the latter part of the ODI tri-series — which England, surprisingly, won — because of a broken rib, his return for the World Cup will further boost the morale of his team-mates.
Lasith Malinga: The World Cup is the perfect stage for Malinga (23) to showcase his ‘toe-crunching’ talent. He is not only Sri Lanka’s fastest bowler but also the one who will, most likely, spearhead his team’s pace attack once the venerable Chaminda Vaas hangs his boots. He has taken 39 wickets in 28 ODIs at a decent average of 26.97.
Malinga has an unusual round-arm action which is disconcerting for the batsmen, and coupled with genuine pace and the dreaded inswinging yorker, he is more than what most batsmen can handle. The only things which can go against him are that he is inexperienced and loses his rhythm easily. But the World Cup has a history of making men out of boys overnight, and Malinga will be hoping that the magic of the mega event rubs onto him too.
Irfan Pathan: The 22-year-old exploded on the scene with a fine showing in the 2003-04 away series in Australia, where he was seen as a natural successor to Kapil Dev. He played a major part in India’s unprecedented Test and one-day series win over Pakistan in Pakistan. But Irfan’s bowling suffered when he started being successfully promoted as a No. 3 batsman. Things came to such a head that he was sent back from the tour of South Africa to regain form on the domestic circuit. The selectors have thrown him another lifeline. Let’s see if he can live up to their expectations.
AB de Villiers: This 23-year-old is the future of South African cricket. During the recent tour of India to South Africa he did quite well in the one-dayers but failed in the Tests. In the next series against the visiting Pakistanis, he again did nothing exceptional in the Tests but hit three fifties as the Proteas clinched the series. The selectors have reposed faith in him despite his inconsistency.
Dwayne Bravo: The 23-year-old West Indian came into the limelight during India’s tour to the Caribbean last year. He played a crucial role in the routing of the visitors in the ODI series. His performance underscored his unique talent as an all-rounder, a position found wanting in the team in the recent past.
Sania Mirza has something to cheer after being ruled out for four weeks from competitive tennis as she moved up one place to 45th in the latest WTA singles rankings.
Sania suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in her right knee during the first-round match in the Qatar Open on February 26 and was later admitted to Apollo Hospital in Hyderabad where she underwent an arthroscopy. Tests revealed a stretched ACL but no tear.
Doctors attending to her prescribed a rehabilitation programme and her condition would be reviewed after four weeks. — Agencies
IN THE NEWS
Bermuda’s spinner Dwayne Leverock did a great job in restricting England, but his team-mates let him down in batting. Police driver Leverock, who weighs about 120 kg, bagged two for 32, including the prize scalp of Kevin Pietersen, as England made 286 for eight in the World Cup warm-up match. In reply, Bermuda were skittled out for 45 in 22.2 overs.
"We just basically did not seem to put two parts together. With batting, I think we gave it away," Leverock told reporters.
"I have been the leading wicket-taker for Bermuda for the past four years. The pitch gave me some turn and bounce, so I used it to my advantage."
The 35-year-old slow left-armer, who was a 110m hurdler as a teenager, said he had actually slimmed down for the World Cup.
England captain Michael Vaughan was impressed with Leverock’s performance and reckoned the slow Caribbean pitches would suit him. — Reuters