1983 WC: Kapil’s catch of Richards was the turning point: Kirti Azad

Given no chance at the third-ever World Cup, India created history by getting the better of then two-time champions West Indies at the iconic Lord’s, 37 years ago. Such was the magnitude of the victory that players were actually pinching themselves inside the dressing room after getting their hands on the famous trophy.

“How can I explain the euphoria? How can you explain that feeling that you have become the world champions in front of thousands of Indians at Lord’s? We were just waving at them from the dressing room,” former India cricketer and member of the 1983 World Cup winning team Kirti Azad told IANS.

“I just sat down on my seat and pinched myself a few times that whether I was dreaming or it really was true. Then I joined in the celebrations and we took it on from there.”

According to Azad, lifting the trophy was a defining moment in Indian cricket history. ‘Kapil’s Devils’, as they are famously known as, beat Clive Lloyd’s team by 43 runs to get their hands on the World Cup for the first time ever.

“Any person who goes to any field he wants to excel and wants to earn name for his country. That was obviously the defining moment of our careers. I think I will take this euphoria, this pride with me to the cremation ground,” Azad stated.

“This was something which seem just like yesterday. It brought India on the world map and it became a superpower. It was a stepping stone for many youngsters.

“It is something that can’t be expressed in words and is something that we are too emotionally attached… all 15 of us.”

West Indies stood between India and history after they got the better of hosts England in the semi-final. According to Azad, the West Indies team of that era was recognised by the players as best ever. So how did India manage to get the better of them? The answer, as per Azad, lies in Kapil’s words.

“The West Indies team was unconquerable. It had won the first two editions of the World Cup. Many cricketers have accepted that that West Indies team were the best ever,” Azad said.

“One thing that Kapil said was ‘let’s go… play our best cricket… let’s not think about winning or losing. If we play well we will give the people worth their money’.

“We were never given a chance. There were eight teams and we were second from the bottom. When we won our first game we were a little surprised but were definitely on a high at that time.”

Azad also recollected what the mood was like inside the dressing room after West Indies had restricted India to just 183 in the final. None of the Indian batsmen got going against the quality West Indies attack as Krishnamachari Srikkanth top-scored with 38.

“We all knew that this total wasn’t enough. You look at that strong West Indian side so Kapil said it may not have been a winning total but let’s fight… it’s a fighting total. We have got those runs and they have to score those runs. So let’s fight for every run that is there on the board,” Azad said.

“That is how that happened. And then there was Kapil’s catch of Viv Richards and that was the turning point. Then wickets fell and we put pressure on the batsmen. We knew if we put pressure on the West Indian batsmen they could succumb to it.”