175 not out – mention this and it takes any Indian who was alive in 1983 into a trip down the memory lane. Kapil’s heroic effort when India were 17 for 5 was not televised live due to a once in a life time strike at BBC, so we had just the news paper reports. Those days we would read and reread the exploits and hang on to every adjective to discuss the next day. As kids, our heroes were getting formed. Kapil’s photo essaying the natraja shot was pasted across all publications that day and he was the toast of India. For obvious reasons, the 1983 World Cup has remained my favourite and somehow the aura of the teams at that time seems different to me. Viv Richards swaggering and hitting the Indians all around the park before mistiming a pull for Kapil to take a wonderful running catch was another spell of cricket I will never forget. King Viv was my favourite batsman but i was gunning for India to win. It was the first time I saw Richards bat, I had my impressions about him just from reading sports publications and it was great that my batting hero played a few shots and still India won!! I was also influenced by Mohinder Amarnath and even changed my batting stance to model his crouching stance for a while. I think Rumesh Ratnayake felled two West Indians with his bowling and Australia were shocked by Zimbabwe in the tournament. However 1983 was all about India winning and my imagination is around that but among all these moments the clearest in my mind is Balwinder Singh Sandhu bowling Gordon Greenidge with an off cutter and it seemed the whole of India celebrated along with the elated Sikh.
In 1987 I thought we had the best team in the world and yet fell short in helpful conditions. It was unimaginable we lost to England in the semis. We started with a one run defeat to Australia. Maninder Singh being clean bowled by Ice Man Steve Waugh cannot be forgotten especially after it was Maninder who was LBW in a memorable tied test against the aussies not long before that. Steve Waugh , McDermott and Alan Border led the unfancied Australians to the World Cup. The lasting memory is of course of the Gatting reverse sweep that misfired and gave Australia the cup. But he was not the only fool in that world cup, Kapil too played a shot too much and gifted the semi final to England. King Viv was in average form in the tournament and I watched a lot of his knocks. Another one of my favourites was just starting up – Azhar easily India’s best fielder and a wizard with the willow, used to bowl at that time and he picked up 4 wickets in one match and I still remember the caught and bowled he took of McDermott – outstanding. Walsh received a medal for Sportsmanship for not “Mankading” Wasim Jaffer but couldnt prevent Quadir hitting 15 of his last over. Gavaskar got his first hundred in ODIs , a brilliant one at that and Shrikanth played a good cameo in the same game. One pair of Arch rivals Australia and England prevented another (India and Pak) from reaching the finals, much to the dismay of the locals. But the jam packed Eden Gardens for the finals not involving India was a sight to behold.
The 90s had 3 World Cups and I will jog my memory for the lasting memories from those. With just a few days to go to World Cup 2011 it is time to get into the mood.