June 25, 1983, was a day that forever changed the course of Indian sports. India won the 1983 Prudential World Cup, beating Clive Lloyd’s mighty West Indies team, arguably the greatest team in the history of the game. From that day onward, cricket rose from being just a popular sport to a national obsession, and became one of the biggest money-spinners in the country.
When India entered the tournament, it was beyond anyone’s imagination that it would eventually end up as champions. Yet Kapil Dev and his immortals defied all expectations and predictions, as they secured victories against all the teams in their group, and then proceeded to defeat two dangerous teams in succession—Australia and England—on its route to the final at Lords. Even as the world stood surprised that India could make it so far, most considered the final with the West Indies to be a foregone conclusion.
West Indies had won both the previous World Cups with embarrassing ease, and its batting line-up (Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes , Vivian Richards, Clive Lloyd, Larry Gomes and Faoud Bacchus), and bowling attack (Malcolm Marshall, Andy Roberts, Michael Holding and Joel Garner) struck terror in the hearts of every cricket team in the world.
So when India was bundled out for a meagre 183, spectators were already making plans for the rest of the afternoon. What neither West Indies nor the spectators expected was the cunning strategy India came up with in its bowling attack. The formidable Windies, expecting a cakewalk, fell for just 140 runs. Mohinder Amarnath picked up his second consecutive Man of the Match award.
Also read: India at 75: Epochal moments from the 1980s
It was a watershed moment in India that transcended sports. An editorial from a daily newspaper ranked the World Cup win among the finest achievements in Independent India. The victory propelled India’s rise as one of the strongest cricketing nations, and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BBCI) became the richest governing body of cricket in the world, with a reported net worth of Rs.18,000 crore.