Calling them ‘bits-and-pieces’ players may amount to cricketing condescension, but all-rounders of a middling range, who bat a bit and bowl a bit, with one usually predominating, have always mattered in the World Cup. In the Indian context, nowhere was this was more abundantly evident than during the 1983 World Cup. When the unheralded Indian team landed in England 36 years ago, no one would have imagined that these bat-and-ball ‘experts’ in Kapil Dev’s team would step in at all times, take wickets with their uncomfortably nippy medium pace and chip in with a few runs, thus contributing handsomely to the biggest upset in the game’s history till that point. The low-profile Mohinder Amarnath made the tournament his own and emerged one of its best all-rounders. But the India vice-captain not only scored 237 priceless runs and bagged eight crucial wickets, including the trophy-sealing scalp of Michael Holding; he played the crucial overall role of strategist in India’s epochal triumph.
Amarnath, then 32, was adjudged Man of the Match in the semi-finals as well as the final. In the final, he scored 26 runs and then dismissed Jeff Dujon, Malcolm Marshall and Holding with his military medium pace. The other India all-rounder, Roger Binny, emerged as the top wicket-taker, with 18 scalps at a miraculous average of 18.66, besides chipping in with 73 priceless runs lower down the order. And who can forget the role of the indomitable Madan Lal in our glorious triumph, particularly his dismissal of Vivian Richards in the final, as well as that of wicket-keeper Syed Kirmani, who also chipped in with important runs, besides keeping the wickets?