If ever there was a match that changed cricket, it took place at Lord’s on 25 June 1983.
The third men’s World Cup Final was expected to be a walkover. Holders West Indies were the undisputed masters of World Cricket and had never lost a single World Cup match before the tournament began. Their 34-run defeat to India in the opening match of the Group Stage was viewed not so much as a sign of vulnerability, as a motivation for revenge. Opponents India, by contrast, had never really taken to the one-day game. Their performances in the two previous tournaments had been poor, recording just one win against East Africa. India hadn’t even hosted a single One-Day International until November 1981. Few Indian fans had bothered to buy tickets for the final, as they hadn’t expected their team to make it that far.
So when India were bowled out for just 183 – Andy Roberts claiming 3 for 32 on his final appearance at Lord’s – everything seemed to be going according to the script. But the Indian team hadn’t given up. “The wicket had a lot of juice and the ball was swinging,” recalled opening bowler Balwinder Sandhu. The holders had reached a comfortable 50 for 1 when a double strike from Madan Lal checked their progress. The second of those wickets was perhaps the most crucial, with Vivian Richards top-edging a pull, caught magnificently by a running Kapil Dev. Not only was it the wicket of the greatest batsman in the world, it was the kind of inspired moment that can galvanise a team.
West Indies never recovered from the setback. Only two more boundaries were hit in their innings. India’s medium pacers were relentless in their accuracy, backed up by tigerish fielding. And West Indies kept losing wickets, three each to Madan Lal and occasional bowler Mohinder Amarnath, whose figures of 3 for 12 earned him the Man of the Match award. It was Amarnath who finished it off, trapping Michael Holding lbw to leave West Indies 140 all out.
It was only when the players returned home that the scale of their triumph was revealed to them. “When we landed in Bombay airport, the crowd was huge and then it hit us that we have done something big for Indian cricket,” recalled Sandhu. Not only had Indian cricket shrugged off decades of diffidence and underachievement in one glorious afternoon, it had also ignited a passion for the shorter form of the game with huge consequences for how cricket is played in the 21st century.