Friday, Aug 19, 2022
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When We Were Kings

The '83 World Cup win sits atop Indian sporting lore. We still savour its aftermath.

When We Were Kings When We Were Kings

Prudence, Providence

  • Cricket decisively became the premier sport in India
  • Indian money poured into cricket. One-Day Internationals became popular, attracting huge sponsorship.
  • The subcontinent, over the years, became the centre of world cricket
  • There was a TV boom, which over the years has taken player salaries and endorsement monies to stratospheric heights
  • The World Cup was hosted in the subcontinent in 1987, and again in 1996

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Halfway through the 1983 World Cup finals at Lord's, the vast majority of Indians believed the fate of their team mirrored that of lambs to the slaughter. India, riding on what was a crackling campaign, including a league win against the champions West Indies, had fizzled out. The stage was too big, they had set the mighty Caribs, boasting a line-up of serial bombers with the bat, a paltry target of 184 in 60 overs. A third title in a row was theirs for the asking. But Balwinder Singh Sandhu, who bowled medium pace at best, knew a way to breach the Windies citadel. Twice in the year already he'd bowled Gordon Greenidge—one half of that inimitable opening pair—with deliveries that came in.

"So, at the back of my mind, I had the idea that I must test him with an inswinger," 25 years on Sandhu told Outlook. "But I waited. The ball was swinging out well, and the first ball I tried to swing in pitched at the right spot. Greenidge shaped as if to leave it, but the ball hit the seam and jagged in sharply and clipped the bails off." Sandhu launched into an uninhibited dance of celebration—"the best bhangra I've seen on a ground," grins Mohinder Amarnath, then Kapil Dev's vice-captain.

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