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We Showed '83 Wasn't A Fluke, Says Sunil Gavaskar

While the BCCI and Sunil Gavaskar himself honoured the 1983 World Cup winners, making them richer by Rs. 35 lakh each, and Ajit Wadekar's 1971 Warriors were honoured privately, the team that triumphed in 1985

PTI [ Updated: March 10, 2010 12:19 IST ]
we showed 83 wasn t a fluke says sunil gavaskar
we showed 83 wasn t a fluke says sunil gavaskar

While the BCCI and Sunil Gavaskar himself honoured the 1983 World Cup winners, making them richer by Rs. 35 lakh each, and Ajit Wadekar's 1971 Warriors were honoured privately, the team that triumphed in 1985 in Australia, winning the World Championships Of Cricket, hasn't yet heard of any felicitations.  


The protagonist of that triumph, skipper Sunil Gavaskar, cast a fleeting look at that triumph when he switched on the TV late on Monday night to overcome jetlag after his return from London on Sunday. "I was watching the India-England match and was delighted to see how well spinners Ravi Shastri and Sivaramakrishnan bowled and beat the batsmen in the air," Gavaskar told TOI on Tuesday.  

Shastri became the man of the tournament and drove home the Audi car. Siva's wicket of Javed Miandad, stumped by Sadanand Vishwanath, turned the final on its head and was responsible for India's target staying below 200 (176). Mention Vishwanath to Gavaskar and he is fulsome in his praise. "He brought tremendous energy to the side. His competitiveness rubbed off on the rest of us."  

So what are Gavaskar's thoughts on the 1985 triumph? "Twenty-five years down the line my thoughts are about how far the Indian team has come as a one-day unit. It's a terrific team now. If they had a couple of all-rounders of the calibre of our 1985 side, the current Indian team would be virtually unbeatable."  

Gavaskar said the triumph was founded by the few experienced players in the side pulling their weight - Mohinder Amarnath, Madan Lal, Vengsarkar, Ravi Shastri, Roger Binny. "No one gave us a chance. Before we left for the series we had lost the Test series to England 1-2 at home and also lost the One-Day series."  

In fact, the banner at the MCG dubbed the two finalists "tram Drivers vs bus conductors"! But the Indian team became such a compact unit that it played unchanged for the four games and the change effected for the final was forced: Roger Binny was sick on the day of the final and Chetan Sharma took his place.  

Gavaskar paid tribute to Kapil Dev's bowling. "He varied his length according to the batsmen and was impossible to score off. Most of the runs that were scored off him were through edges."  

Gavaskar believes West Indies would have been tougher opponents than Pakistan in the final. Luckily, India never met them as they were in the other group and Pakistan beat them in the semis.  

Gavaskar said the Shastri-Srikkanth opening partnership had been forged during the series against England. "Srikkanth was a destroyer. We continued with it and it allowed us to have experienced batsmen in the middle order like Mohinder, Vengsarkar besides myself with Kapil being the floater as per the situation. Mohd Azharuddin had burst on the scene with three hundreds in a row against England. People in Australia were eager to see him."  

Gavaskar also remembered some funny moments of the final. "We pulled the legs of the Channel 9 crew. Javed and I pretended to do the toss before commentator Ian Chappell came. He had to do it, but was late. We had been waiting for him in the centre and we could see how worried he was when he saw us flicking the coin. He was literally jogging to the centre. Imagine his relief when he was told we had pulled a fast one on him."  

Beating Pakistan was a matter of India outwitting them. Gavaskar recalled: "Pakistan were nine down some 30 minutes before the interval. I just ensured we didn't have to bat the twenty minutes or so in case they were all out half an hour before lunch by first calling on Ravi Shastri to bowl and then pretending to change my mind and call Chetan over from deep square-leg, so that two minutes before the half hour to lunch would be consumed and we didn't have to bat an awkward few minutes before supper."  

And the dressing room atmosphere after the triumph? "Everyone was jumping, champagne was bubbling, it was all over my head. The win was as fantastic a gift one could expect on one's last day as captain. And of course, the Audi. We had planned to drive off in it leaving Ravi Shastri with the mike and the interviewer! But that failed. Imagine Ravi running after us and the car he had won! He had not driven an automatic gear car and I had to show him how and also be his navigator as the players sitting on the bonnet blocked his view. He almost ran over the lensmen who were right in our tracks."  

Gavaskar says above all there was relief as the Indian team's self-belief had been restored. "We had won the World cup in England in 1983 and had won in Australia. We knew we could beat any team anywhere."  

That's the legacy that Mahendra Singh Dhoni's team has inherited catapulting them to the top echelons of the ICC rankings.

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