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'It Was Like Diwali Time'

On the win in the semifinal and Kapil's knock of 175 (When we got to 150, he said "Izzat to bach gayi, 150 runs to banaye!)

'It Was Like Diwali Time'
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Outlook talked with several World Cup stars to discuss the key moments of the final and the tournament. Excerpts

Cricket was a passion then, it turned into religion after the win. Private sports channels came in a few years after that, with the boom in satellite television. More advertising, greater revenues from TV meant more money for the game and the players. We won, and that was why we got the next World Cup in India in 1987. From a game which was played for pride and honour, we saw it turn into a commercial game. For good, of course. Can you imagine, those who played in the past got just 35-40 rupees to play for the country?

Even during our time, we used to get jobs, but there was not much money. Except for two-three players, who earned a bit through endorsements, no one else earned big money. In a way, it was good that the commerce came into it... Now all the players who come from humble backgrounds, they can play one season and be secure for life.

When Kapil got his 175, I was the 12th man in the game. I was going in and out all the time. Kapil was upset when we lost early wickets, he was saying that we must get at least 150.

As our innings began, he had gone for a shower. After a few minutes, I came running in... and Kapil was still with a towel around him. I told him it was his turn to bat, three were down already and soon he'd have to go in! When we got to 150, he said "Izzat to bach gayi, 150 runs to banaye! [Our honour's been saved. At least we made 150 runs!] We've beaten Australia, we've beaten the West Indies... Now we must not be humiliated by Zimbabwe."

Then he asked me to get an off-shoulder bat. I said, "Have you gone mad, why are you using this bat? You're doing well with that other bat!" He said: "Is doosare bat ke run poore ho gaye hain... [the other bat has served its purpose] Now I'll hit with this."

It was like Diwali time... It was an old pavilion, with an asbestos roof, so when he started hitting, he hit the ball to the longest part of the ground, and the balls were raining on the pavilion roof, all the time making a great racket.

In the semifinals against England, I was playing my second game. They were going well, 100-odd for two in around 20 overs. Then Kapil just throws the ball at me and asks me to bowl. The wicket was low and slow, so I tried to bowl slower, to make it difficult for the batsmen. Amarnath started bowling from the other end. We bowled 24 overs between us and gave away just 55 runs and took three wickets, and Lamb was run out. We broke the back of the middle order. I got Botham with one that kept low and turned. I was the most economical bowler in the tournament.

In the final, I made a zero and still won the World Cup! Who can be a bigger rayees [rich man] than me?!

(As told to Rohit Mahajan)

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