Ved Prakash

Apr 032014

This world cup has been such a see-saw so far. Over upsets, shock defeats and surprise victories, we have seen the Netherlands make the associate nations proud, Australia fighting hard against Bangladesh to register their solitary win and favorites such as Pakistan capitulating in a heart breaking manner.

All said and done, its cricket after all and therefore it’s only expected that we see the unexpected and the game keeps its tag of throwing out uncertainties that charm even the non-followers and make the followers go gaga over its beauty.

After a glorious fortnight that saw some relentless stroke play, tactful bowling and some mind numbing catches, we are all set to witness the top four sides lock horn against each other in order to stake their claim to kiss the magnificent trophy on Sunday.

Hello everyone and welcome to our build up towards the 1st semi-finals of the T20 World Cup between sub-continental giants Sri Lanka and the defending champions West Indies. While the Lankans might consider themselves favorites going into the contest tomorrow in Dhaka, West Indies will be more familiar with the conditions in Mirpur as Sri Lanka had all their games in Chittagong.

A lot is being said about the differences that both the venues presented in the tournament. While the pitches in Mirpur have been kind to spinners, affording them the luxury of considerable turn and some bounce, the surface at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium (Chittagong) was faster than expected, with little turn for the spinners.

The brown clay differs from the soil used in Mirpur, where the clay constituent is black, and it keeps its character better throughout the day; during the evening, the behavior of black clay can be quite changeable, as seen in how much the scores and results varied between the 3.30 pm and 7.30 pm starts.

Therefore, expect spin to play a major role in both the semi finals. Having said that, both the sides boast of some quality, world class spinners that make us lick our fingers already in great anticipation of what’s in store. It will be interesting to see how a Jayawardene and Sangakkara tackle the guile and variation of a Badree or a Narine.

Equally exciting will be to see how Gayle combats the deliveries that are being bowled on to his pads. He’s been rather uncomfortable with such a strategy that the teams have adopted against him so far in this tournament and it will make for some thrilling watch if Gayle indeed comes out with a way to thwart such deliveries and put them away for runs!

 Each team has its strengths and weaknesses, but in a semi finals contest of a world cup, it’s not the skills that matter; it’s more about calming one’s nerves, keeping one’s head still and being street smart in reacting to the dynamic changes on the cricket field.

Sri Lanka:

Strengths: Sri Lanka has one of the most reliable bowling in the competition.

Watch out for Kushal Perrera’s opening dazzle. The youngster screams attention when his bat starts talking. Remember their first game against South Africa and the way he dominated the famed attack of the Proteas? Sri Lanka will hope that it’s his day tomorrow.       
It will possibly be the last T20 world cup for both Sangakkara and Jayawardene and therefore expect these champions to press the pedal and give out their best. History bears testimony that more often than not when both of them have clicked together, Sri Lanka has gone on to win almost all their games.
On a surface that will aid spin, we can only expect Mendis and Herath to wreak havoc in opposition’s camp. Of course, the cherry on the cake will be the finish that Malinga almost always provides at the death.

  Weakness: Their batting has shown signs of implosion in the tournament.

Sri Lanka’s batting has shown signs of sudden implosion in the tournament. It was surprising to see them implode and capitulate the way they did in the game against the Kiwis. They get jittery in knock out games.
Dilshan’s form has been a problem as he has failed to provide Lankans the kind of starts that he is known for.

West Indies:

Strengths: The crusaders from the Caribbean islands have the best T20 side. They have not played to their potential so far and compared to Sri Lanka they know the conditions in Dhaka better.

Gayle’s rather somber performance so far only gave an opportunity to the likes of Bravo and Sammy to re-discover their own self and get into the T20 rhythm.
West Indies probably has the best combination of spin bowling in the tournament. Merely thinking about a Badree and a Narine on the eve of a contest can give the opposition camp steady bouts of jitters.
Simmons and Samuels lend a lot of steadiness at No.3 and 4 and together the team is a solid unit that appears promising enough to defend their title.


Gayle’s form has been a problem so far in the tournament. Despite getting a half century, West Indies have not seen the domination that one would expect of the giant.
Smith has failed so far as well. Therefore, West Indies has suffered in getting off to a crackling start that they are so used in T20 games.

So it’s going to be a battle between the deft and guile of the spinners on a pitch that’s dry and aids quality spin bowling. This doesn’t mean that one can rule out a high scoring game. There haven’t been too many low-scoring games in Dhaka, apart from Afghanistan getting blown away for 72 or Australia’s 86 all out against India. There were ten 150-plus scores with Pakistan making 191 and 190 against Australia and Bangladesh. Five teams have won chasing in ten games, twice in the last over. But teams that have won batting first have mostly won by big margins – 16, 73, 50, 73 and 84 runs.

Are we ready for this cracker of a game then? Are we ready to embrace a soul soothing journey of some scintillating cricket? Are we all set to witness the pace, thrill and excitement that the semi finals of a World Cup present? Well we better be! The West Indies get set to defend their title and the Lankans gear up to make the best use of their form of late to win their maiden World T20 trophy.


Predicting an outcome to such an even contest is such a gamble. I dare not venture into it. But going by recent form, consistency, their familiarity to the conditions and their bowling prowess at the death which is the envy of most sides, I just get a twitchy feeling that the Lankans must thump the Windies on the morrow.

Let the game begin……



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Sep 012013
Cricket Zimbabwe: Payment Issue Likely To Hamper Zimbabwe- Pakistan Tests

Zimbabwe’s two test series versus Pakistan which is slated to begin on Tuesday is under serious danger of getting affected by the on-going player strike over unpaid wages. The home team is badly hit by financial problems and to make matters worse the players have given the management time till Monday to settle the outstanding dues.

Coach Andy Waller sees the issue as a major distraction ahead of a major tour. He said “Unfortunately I think it will be spilling into the Test series because I don’t think it’s all been solved yet. I’m not 100 percent sure, but I’m under the impression that nothing is definite yet. There’s no doubt about it, it’s still on their minds.”

Pakistan will look to seize the opportunity by looking for a series whitewash. If not, they will have a lot of questions to answer to their fans, especially while playing against such a depleted opposition.

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq exercised caution while saying “When we were here in 2011, they really gave us a tough time in the Test match. And the way they’re playing we should not take them lightly, because they are playing good cricket. We have to be really on top of our game.”

Zimbabwe are only two years young in the Test format after a self-imposed six-year exile because of the country’s failed cricket structure. However, the same problems that forced them to give up Tests in 2005 are back to haunt them again.

Coach Waller seemed helpless as he said “I’m trying to do the best I can. Unfortunately I have no control of the other issues that are going on. I’ve just got to try and get the players to push those problems aside as much as they can and focus on the cricket, which is really the only thing I can do, and just hope that they can try and be mentally strong to be able to handle those situations. It’s very hard to say to the guys, ‘Please, let’s try and focus on today and concentrate on cricket, and forget about what’s happened.”

Financial problems aside, the early retirement of fast bowler Kyle Jarvis and the absence of leg-spinner Graeme Cremer come as a major jolt to the already battered side. To this Waller says “The main concern I have at the moment is probably on the bowling side. How are we going to get 20 wickets? I’m not saying our bowlers aren’t good, but having lost someone like Jarvis who could bowl with a bit of pace and swung the ball and always gave the chance of picking up wickets, and losing someone like Cremer who’s a quality leg spin bowler. That is one of my concerns at the moment. But I still believe that our bowlers can go out and do the job.”

At the same time the visitors are breaking a sweat over Mohammad Hafeez’s fitness ahead of the two tests. Hafeez suffered a slight muscle strain in the 3rd ODI. However, captain Misbah is confident that the all-rounder will be fit on time for the Tests.  Misbah said “Spin is very important because we’ve got two guys who have been performing really well for Pakistan- Abdur Rehman and Saeed Ajmal. They are something special for us, winning Test matches for us and we really bank on them.”

While the return of opener Tino Mawoyo will definitely boost Zimbabwe’s batting, with Richmond Mutumbami set to keep wickets, captain Brendan Taylor can better focus on his batting and in leading the side in such troubled times. Let’s hope the players get a favorable response from the management on Monday and who knows, it can actually lift the side’s performance and put Pakistan under the back foot. 

Aug 312013
"Sachin should play one more year to groom Virat" says Chris Cairns

Former New Zealand all-rounder Chris Cairns said that Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar should play the test format for one more year as his presence will immensely help the likes of Virat Kohli and other youngsters in the team to get groomed.  Speaking to PTI, Cairns said “Kohli is going to be a great player and the next captain. Tendulkar should keep going for another year. I don’t know, but Kohli needs to get more experience in his company.”   

He added “Tendulkar’s presence in the Indian side is important as there are not enough experienced players in the side, especially after the retirement of Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman.” The Kiwi pointed out saying “When Tendulkar hangs his boots for good, it would be sad for the young Indian players including Cheteshwar Pujara and Kohli to miss his experience in the middle.”

Cairns said that if he were to be the Indian captain he would happily accommodate a “below-par” Tendulkar in the side. He buttressed his point saying “Even if he is operating below his benchmark, he is still better than anybody else. Tendulkar has to be in the team out of respect and contributions he made in his long career, even though he has not been scoring lots of runs in the recent past.”

Cairns lauded the Indian Premier League and said that the cash-rich tournament has done a lot of good for the Indian players. The Kiwi exuded confidence and said that it won’t be a surprise to see India produce a greater number of international quality players in the next 5-10 years. 

He said “There may be some criticizing IPL but it has done a lot of good to Indian players. A lot of players have been interacting with international players, trainers and coaches, which has helped them improve their cricket. And they have been learning faster and in professional way which is good for the game.”

However, Cairns didn’t hold himself back from cautioning India by saying “The next frontier for India is to consistently win abroad. It’s all about mental prowess than technique to play on bouncier tracks abroad. Dravid, Sehwag and Tendulkar had good records abroad. They played well because they had the mental prowess to play in alien conditions.”

Cairns observed that it’s not just about batting in alien conditions but about good bowling as well which will determine whether India is successful abroad or not. He said “India should get their fast bowling department right if they want to be successful abroad. Until India finds the fast bowling combination it will struggle. It needs to find that and that’s one thing I think that Indian cricket is yearning for.”

He was categorical when he said “You cannot have one fast bowler doing all the work. You need a combination of two bowlers. England has Jimmy Anderson and Chris Broad. South Africa has Dale Steyn and Mornie Morkel. The world’s dominating teams are those who had a combination of two good fast bowlers. Even Pakistan had Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram.”

Signing off with hope and a peek into the past, Cairns said “Ishant is somewhere about and it is the consistency. If you had Zaheer Khan and Javagal Srinath bowling together I guarantee that India would have been winning abroad.”



Jul 152013
Cricket India- "Best phase for me in international Cricket" says Rohit Sharma

His success in the role of an opener has given him a new lease of life in Indian cricket and Rohit Sharma believes this “purple patch” has been the “best and most satisfying phase” for him from the time he got to play for India. 

In an interview to PTI he said “From the point of view of consistency, this has certainly been the best phase as an international cricketer. I am enjoying my new role as an opener. That I have been successful and my contribution has helped the team’s cause makes it even more satisfying. I am hoping to keep up the good work.”

The extremely gifted right hander scored 5 half-centuries in the 12 matches that he got to open for India. In difficult tracks, where most of the batsmen struggled to get their act together, the 26-year old Mumbaikar displayed solid technique and sharp footwork to tackle the new ball with characteristic ease.

He adds “I was always confident about my technique. The opener’s job is specialized one but I always knew that I could hold my own if I am given an opportunity at the top of the order. Also I have opened a couple of times in T20’s for India, so it wasn’t an entirely new experience.”  The fact that he scored 83 versus England in Mohali in his maiden appearance as an opener said a lot about his abilities. However, in his own admission, the offer to open for India came to Rohit a bit suddenly.

Sharma, who has scored 2459 runs in 98 ODIs with two centuries and 17 half-centuries says “I wasn’t exactly surprised but I knew that it would be challenging. But then in life, when challenges are thrown at you, you should believe in your instincts and go for it. The innings of 83 against England wasn’t the best but certainly an effort that proved to be a morale booster for me.

Asked about the change in the role of an ODI opener from the time two new balls have been introduced, Rohit admits that it is indeed a big challenge. He says “The opener’s role with two new balls coming into play has changed. It’s no longer going after the bowling from the word ‘go’. There are a few shots which should be avoided during the initial overs. For example, when the ball is pitched up, one would love to play drive but now it is better to be a bit watchful. Having said that, I am not saying that one shouldn’t play his natural game.”

On being asked about what kept him going despite the initial failures and the scathing criticism from the fans, he said “When people said a lot of things, I was not really disturbed as I knew my ability. My job is to focus on my game and I try to do that. I can’t stop someone from writing whatever he feels like. I would rather concentrate on my job and that is to score runs.”

Recent IPL saw him captain a team that boasted of big names like Ricky Ponting, Sachin Tendulkar and Lasith Malinga. However, that brought out the best in Sharma and saw him lead the Mumbai Indians to their maiden IPL triumph. He reacted saying “I won’t say that leading someone like Sachin Tendulkar or Ricky Ponting made me conscious but certainly more responsible. The moment you become captain, you not only have to lead by example with your own performances but also be responsible for field placings and bowling changes. Responsibility always makes you a better cricketer.” Sharma scored 538 runs, including four half-centuries, in 19 matches in the sixth edition of the IPL.”

Asked whether he would like to continue in his role as an opener in the upcoming series versus South Africa as well and a guarded Rohit said “I wouldn’t like to make any comments on the South Africa tour. That’s still some time away and I would like to wait and watch and only react to the situation. Let that situation arise.”

Jul 112013
Ashes 2013: Lehmann Praises Ashton Agar

If Ashes is also about mind games and surprise packages apart from the on-field cricket, then the Aussies definitely managed to force the English camp into raising their eyebrows by including the 19-year old, Melbourne born left arm spinner, Ashton Agar into their side ahead of the more experienced Nathan Lyon.

And their coach Darren Lehmann is all praises for the young man who bowled 7 wicket-less overs on Wednesday while conceding just 24 runs. He said “For a 19-year-old kid, it’s great. He’s excited and you saw him when Glenn McGrath presented him with his cap, he had a tear in his eye and it’s a big moment for him.”

Australia had their own logic in picking him ahead of Lyon who is veteran of 22 tests. Just as England believe off spinner Graeme Swann can play a key role against Australia because his stock ball turns away from left-handed batsmen, of whom there are several in the visitors’ line-up, similarly the fact that England’s top-order is mostly constituted of right-handers helped boost Agar’s case.

Australia did well to keep this surprise selection a surprise till the last moment. It was only when fast bowling great Glenn McGrath was seen handing Agar his “Baggy Green” cap, in a traditional presentation ceremony, that the news became public. To this Lehmann said “The boys were good, they knew two days ago so we just had to see if they could keep it quiet and they did.”

Commenting on his performance on Day 1 of the First Ashes Test, Lehmann said “We went for a left-arm spinner to take it away from all their right-handers. He was nervous today and you’d expect that on the first day of an Ashes series. As the wicket wears, he’ll come into the game more and more.”

Agar shot into prominence during the last Australian season by bagging 31 first class wickets at an economy of around 30 in his debut Sheffield Shield campaign for Western Australia. Lehmann, who was then the coach of Queensland, was mighty impressed with his bowling. He reflected saying “I’ve seen him bowl a lot last year in Shield cricket and I think he’s an outstanding prospect. He knows he has a lot of work to do and that’s OK. We were happy to take the chance with him with all their right handers. He gets it in the right area and he can bowl.”

For the 25-year old Lyon, getting overlooked would have been a bitter pill to swallow. But Lehmann spoke in his support. He said “He’s been outstanding, the way he took it, and he’s going to play a part in this Ashes series as well, there’s no doubt about that.”

Let’s hope this young spinner does well in the days to comes and comes out as a real find for the Aussies from this Ashes campaign.

Jul 082013
Ashes 2013: Ian Botham foresees 10-0 Thrashing of the Aussies

Former Ashes hero and England all-rounder Ian Botham said that despite the appointment of Darren Lehmann as the Australian coach, the Kangaroos shall get a 10-0 thrashing at the hands of their traditional rivals in the back-to-back Ashes series.

In his column for the Daily Mirror, Botham writes “I haven’t seen anything to remotely make me feel as though I need to change my initial prediction of a double 5-0. There is simply no department in which I think Australia have got an edge over England.”

Botham who has helped England win the Ashes on at least 4 occasions agreed that replacing Mickey Arthur with Darren Lehmann is the best thing done by the Cricket Australia as the former left hander knows the inside out of Australian cricket. However, he conceded that even Lehmann doesn’t have the magic wand to turn this Australian side into world beaters.

England are aiming for another Ashes win – their third victory in the past four series – after winning the last encounter 3-1 Down Under. After five upcoming Tests, England will travel to Australia in October for another five-Test series.

Jul 082013
Ashes 2013: "I Don't Think We're A Dominant Force" says Graeme Swann

Ahead of this season’s Ashes Series, English off spin bowler, Graeme Swann said that England did not regard themselves as a “dominant force” in world cricket. England great Ian Botham has already predicted a 5-0 whitewash in favor of England in the upcoming Ashes series and there also have been talks of a 10-0 sweep for England, should they beat the Aussies in the return series slated to take place in November.

England, currently ranked No.3 in the ICC Test rankings behind South Africa and India start their Ashes campaign on 10th July at Trentbridge. In 2011, a Test series win against India enabled the English side to climb to the top of the ICC table. However, they couldn’t hold on to that position for long. Hence, they are being very cautious this time around and are refraining from calling themselves a “dominant force”.

Swann said “I don’t think we see ourselves as a dominant force. We climbed up to number one in the world, which was a feat we aimed to do and we were pleased with, but we didn’t stay there for long so we’re continually aiming to improve. We want to get back up there and until we are, we won’t see ourselves as a dominant force. I’m sure there’s 11 players in our dressing room and 11 in theirs that have been looking forward to this for a very long time. I’ve just been at Trent Bridge, the best Test cricket ground in England, soaking up the sunshine and the pre-Ashes atmosphere is very exciting.”

On being asked about the propensity of England bowlers to sledge the opposition, Swann said “Any altercations we’ve had in the past are firmly in the past.” He will definely be a key ammunition of England’s attack given the number of left-handers in the Australian side. Swann’s stock delivery that spins away from the left hander will definitely pose some crucial problems for the opposition.

He very jokingly signs off “You don’t go out there looking to pick a fight or cause a rumpus, you go out there desperately hoping to do well yourself. I think any tetchiness may come about because of hot weather or frustrated bowlers, and hopefully that will be on the Australian side as we come in for tea time on day one with 300 for nought.”

Jun 272013
Cricket England: "Cook Capable Of Beating Sachin Tendulkar's Records" says Pietersen

Kevin Pietersen believes that his England captain Alistair Cook is well on his way to break Sachin Tendulkar’s records. At 28, Cook is over 8000 runs behind the Master Blaster’s Test record of 15,837 runs, but the way he is going, he is on target to challenge the legendary batsman’s numbers!!

In an interview with Darren Gough on ‘Talksport’, a very candid Pietersen said “For me he`s the right man to lead England, he`s doing a great job for us and he will continue to get better and better and break every record anyone`s ever set, certainly in the English game. He`s on target to go for Tendulkar`s numbers, if you look at the numbers and look at his age.” The 28-year-old Cook is 8,313 runs behind the 40-year-old Tendulkar in the overall standings, with Sachin`s 15837 Test runs being over 2000 more than his nearest rival Ricky Ponting, who has retired.

Pietersen waxed eloquent about Cook’s consistency in scoring runs. He said “His first series was against India away and we beat India. He`s done exceptionally well, his cricket just keeps getting better and better.” He also lauded young Joe Root for his technique and temperament who debuted versus India last year. Praising him, Kevin said “I never knew of him, I never heard of him, because when you`re on the scene and young players come you just don`t. But I knew that he was going to be good when he walked out to bat in Nagpur in his first Test match. I was batting and… We just didn`t want to let India back into it at all and he walked out and – just his face walking towards me for 20 meters – I thought this kid`s going to be a flipping superstar.”

“It was just the confidence that he walked out to bat with in his debut Test match in India, two spinners bowling, from each end, we`d just lost a wicket or a couple of wickets and he walked out with a smile on his face, and went `All right lad, you ok, you`re playing well there,” recounts Pietersen who recently hogged the limelight for getting into a “bar brawl” with Australian batsman David Warner during the Champions Trophy.”

Talking about the English media with whom Pietersen doesn’t share a flattering rapport, he said “I`ve been burnt too many times and it`s just a case of me now concentrating on my cricket and playing my cricket as best I can because that whole situation hurt my family too much. I get it all day every day.”

He mocked at a media person saying “Somebody asked me yesterday, `Can you take some constructive criticism?` I said, `Excuse me? You`re talking to somebody who has it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.` So it doesn`t affect me, it`s water off a duck`s back now. I have absolutely no interest in it but it hurt my family and my best mates.” 

Asked about his future plans aside cricket, Pietersen said “These last three months that I`ve been injured I`ve had quite a bit of time on my hands to sort the business side of life out. I am heavily involved in a clothing company and a footwear company in India. I`ve got some different stuff, other things on the horizon that I`m negotiating, talking about and signing off.”

Rumors are that Pietersen might just follow football star David Beckham’s path and move into the fashion industry. Well he sure has the looks for it. But before all that, I’ sure, he would love to help England have a great Ashes season ahead!!

Jun 272013
EngvNZ 2013: Morgan To Miss The 2nd T20, Tredwell To Captain England

This may not be music to England’s ears who have lost the first T20 versus the Kiwis and will be more than eager to square the series at The Oval tomorrow. However, their preparations for the all important tie received a rude jolt when Captain Eoin Morgan injured his right hand and consequently will not be a part of tomorrow’s game. James Tredwell is touted to replace Morgan as the skipper for tomorrow’s match. 

Incidentally, Morgan who captained England in the first T20 on Tuesday was also standing in place of regular skipper Stuart Broad. This is because England has consciously chosen to rest a few of their regular players so that they are fit and ready for the upcoming Ashes Tour.

With the England team administration still not very confident to hand over the captaincy responsibilities to Pietersen, Tredwell has been asked to lead the side for the first time. Tredwell has some captaincy experience no doubt, as he has captained the English county side Kent. He has also played 19 ODIs and 6 T20Is and has been a superb performer for England. Let’s hope he provides an inspiring leadership to this increasingly new looking England side and helps them square the series.

Jun 252013
Cricket India- The Glory Of This Day in 1983

It was on this day, 30 years ago, that India won its first cricket World Cup, which remained the only World Cup won by the country till 2007. This victory changed the course of the game in this country and gave a new dimension to it. Kapil Dev, who led India to that historic win against the West Indies, relived some of the moments of this epic win as India celebrated 30 years of this glorious win. He was joined by team-mates Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri who jogged down the memory lane and recounted those days.

Kapil said “We were just a bunch of young boys who wanted to have fun. Winning was more fun in the evening and that’s what we started to look out for – how we can enjoy more. The first match itself (against West Indies) gave us a little hope. After that our aim was to make the top four. Every match became more and more serious after that.” He added “We felt that the 1983 World Cup changed the entire sport in our country and gave a new dimension to Indian cricket.” 

Shastri said “The fact of the matter was that we had beaten the West Indies and Australia to reach the semi-finals. When we reached Old Trafford for our semi-final game and saw the pitch, we knew we had a very good chance.” India decimated the Aussies by a huge margin of 118 runs to set up its semi-final clash against England at Old Trafford.

In the semi-finals, England was dismissed for 213 in the stipulated 60 overs. While Captain Kapil Dev bagged 3 wickets by conceding just 35 runs in his quota of 11 overs, he was ably supported by Roger Binny and Mohinder Amarnath who picked up 2 wickets each. Yashpal Sharma’s 61 and Sandeep Patil’s 51* set up India’s chase who chased down the target with 6 wickets to spare.

As the British press reported “The Unthinkable Had Happened”. India had made it to the Finals of the Prudential Cup which was to be played at the “Mecca of Cricket”- The Lord’s!!

Shastri pitched in by saying “We just said, ‘let’s go out there and enjoy ourselves’. There was no thought of winning or losing. We had played damn good cricket to reach the final and now let’s go and enjoy.” Gavaskar said that Kapil had said everyone to make the Finals a “memorable one”. “That’s what Kapil said, ‘We have worked hard and made the final. Yes, nobody is giving us a chance but this is a huge occasion so let’s go out there, give it our best’. That’s exactly what we did,” said Gavaskar.

Kapil said that upon reaching the Lord’s when he had a look at the playing surface, he clearly knew that the track had been prepared to suit the West Indies. He said “There was so much grass on that wicket; I still remember it clearly in my mind. I thought, ‘what the hell is this? This is not a one-day wicket. We discussed it in the team meeting and I said, ‘I am sure they will cut the grass. There’s no way it will be so bouncy and green for the final’. But that didn’t happen.”

As Clive Lloyd won the toss and asked India to bat first, all didn’t go well for India as Gavaskar perished early. However, his swashbuckling partner Srikkanth unleashed his fury on the West Indian bowlers. Shastri recounts “The West Indies hadn’t seen Cheeka (Srikkanth) before and he had the shots – the cut, the pull and hook – to counter their bowling. When it was pitched up he would smash it through the covers. So the kind of shots he played, took them by surprise. At the end of the match, his 38 was the top-score in the World Cup final.”

Srikkanth’s blitzkrieg propelled India to 183 in 54.4 overs but that was a miniscule target in front of a colossal Caribbean side that bristled with big names such as Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Vivian Richards and Clive Lloyd. Shastri adds “If you look at 183 with the kind of batting line-up that West Indies had, it really should have been a walk in the park for them.”

Greenidge and Haynes went early. But Vivian Richards looked to threaten and take the game away from the Indians when an athletic Kapil Dev covered the distance from mid-on to midwicket to catch a mis-timed hook from the batsman. Did India just catch the World Cup? In hindsight many believe that to be the turning point of the game as West Indies were suddenly languishing at 57/3.

Shastri recollects “After Richards’ wicket it was India’s turn to keep their calm and not try too many things in a flash. It was a matter of hanging in there and you never know, there might be a run-out or a stupid shot that’s played. Once Clive Lloyd got out India had their nose in the front and they made sure they don’t do anything stupid to lose that advantage.”

When Mohinder Amarnath trapped Michael Holding in the front, a new dimension to cricketing glory had been provided. India has won their maiden World Cup, a win that set off instant celebrations across the country and ensured that in the years to come by the nation shall become the new powerhouse of the gentleman’s game. This day, 30 years ago, changed the meaning and respect that every Indian accords towards the game.

As the country still rejoices its recent Champions Trophy win, it’s important we don’t forget that the process began 30 years ago!! We, the fans, followers and patrons of this sacred game salute the team that helped us taste victory in 1983.  

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