India go into World Cup 2019 as one of the favourites. While they are top heavy in the batting, Virat Kohli possesses arguably the most potent bowling outfit of all participating nations. Over the years, India have tasted both agony and ecstasy at cricket’s premier tournament.
As India aim for glory at the 2019 edition, Renin Wilben looks back at the Men in Blue’s fascinating journey at the World Cup over the years.
Kapil Dev with 1983 World Cup. Pic: @ICC/ Twitter
Clueless in ’75-’79 to Champions in 1983: On expected lines India were a big flop in the 1975 edition as they had only just begun playing one-day cricket. In fact the one memory that Indians have of the World Cup is not a memorable one – Sunil Gavaskar’s snail-paced 36 runs off 174 balls. They did manage a victory, but it was against minnows East Africa. Things were worse at the 1979 edition as they lost all three matches, including the one against Sri Lanka, which they were expected to win. India finished last in their group.
When India arrived in 1983 for their third World Cup, under the young Kapil Dev, mostly players were happy to come on an extended vacation. They however stunned the West Indies in their opening encounter by 34 runs. It was seen as a minor aberration for the mighty Windies though who came back to defeat India by 66 runs.
It all changed in the match against Zimbabwe when India were down in the dumps at 17 for 5. A loss would have knocked India out of the tournament. However, in came Kapil Dev and blazed his way to a mesmerising 175 not out. India went on to win the match and from thereon, they were a completely different outfit. They overcame Aussies by a whopping 118 runs to make the semis.
In the semi-finals, India were up against the favoured England. But fifties from Yashpal Sharma and Sandeep Patil and a match-winning all-round effort from Mohinder Amarnath saw them make their first World Cup final. The West Indies were favourites to win, especially after India crumbled to 183. However, India had nothing to lose and Kapil Dev’s spectacular running catch off Madan Lal to dismiss Viv Richards turned the match around. Lal and Amarnath claimed three scalps each as India knocked over West Indies for 140 and became World Champions.