July 25 holds a significant place in the annals of Indian cricket, marking a momentous day that took place four decades ago. On this very day, the legendary Kapil Dev and his determined team triumphantly hoisted the World Cup Trophy, etching a glorious chapter in Indian cricket history. Their victory not only secured India’s maiden World Cup win but also inspired countless generations to believe in the indomitable spirit of this beautiful game. Overcoming the odds as perceived underdogs, the 1983 World Cup victory stands as a monumental achievement.
Unbeknownst to many, the selected cricketers of the Indian team had not approached the tournament with unwavering seriousness. Startling revelations from team members themselves unveiled that several players had initially made plans for vacations in the United States, with a brief stopover in London to fulfill their World Cup commitments.
One such player, Krishnamachari Srikkanth, who had recently tied the knot before the World Cup, candidly shared in multiple interviews that he had meticulously planned a honeymoon in the United States following the tournament. He revealed that many other players harbored similar intentions.
Adding to the astonishing revelations, team manager PR Man Singh disclosed that the cricket association had made hotel reservations for only a few days, assuming the team would not progress far in the tournament. Return tickets were even booked for an earlier date. However, all these arrangements were promptly adjusted as the Indian team showcased remarkable progress in their performance.
Countless anecdotes abound of the team’s self-doubt and perpetual underestimation of their own abilities. As the world perceived them as underdogs, they too succumbed to this notion. Prior to the World Cup, India had registered victory against only one team – East Africa in 1975.
These factors did little to bolster the confidence radiating from the faces and attitudes of Kapil Dev’s squad. In historic India vs. Zimbabwe match, which curiously went unaired by the BBC, Kapil Dev etched his name into the cricketing annals with an extraordinary knock of 175 not out. Players have often shared their behind-the-scenes experiences from that fateful day. Even as India lost four wickets, Kapil Dev unabashedly luxuriated in a hot water shower. It was only when Sunil Valson persistently urged him to step out of the bathroom that Kapil Dev realized the need to conjure a monumental inning, fearing it would otherwise be remembered as a shameful event in cricket history. Little did they know that this match would forever alter the landscape of Indian cricket.
Not only the players but also their partners had made alternative plans during the trip to London. Inderjit, Vidya, Anu, Marshneil, and Romi, the respective wives of Mohinder Amarnath, Krishnamachari Srikkanth, Madan Lal, Sunil Gavaskar, and Kapil Dev, had set their sights on shopping, firmly believing that India stood little chance of victory.
In the historic final against the formidable West Indies, when India’s performance seemed lackluster and Viv Richards unleashed a brutal assault with boundaries aplenty, Romi Dev and Anu Mohan left the stadium, discarding their tickets in the belief that India would not emerge victorious.
It has been forty years since an underestimated team like theirs, one that even lacked self-belief, triumphed in the World Cup, etching their names in the books of history and proudly bringing the coveted cup home.