25 years on, 1983 heroes recall every moment

Published: Friday, June 27, 2008, 5:33 [IST]
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London: A quarter century after helping guide India to a stunning victory over two-time champions West Indies in the 1983 World Cup final, Mohinder Amarnath and Madan Lal remember it as if it were yesterday.

They have good reason, too -- the pair combined to take six key wickets, with Amarnath being named man of the match, and Lal walking away with the prized scalp of Vivian Richards in the climax of the third World Cup.

They joined with the other 12 members of the 1983 squad, including captain Kapil Dev and opening batsman Sunil Gavaskar, to commemorate the historic triumph at Lord's with a private function and gala dinner.

"I still feel that it just happened yesterday, and all the memories are still fresh," Amarnath told AFP.

"I remember the entire game, what happened, who bowled, who batted, what we were all doing.

"It's one of the greatest moments of my life."

Amarnath contributed a crucial 28 at No 3 after Gavaskar's early dismissal and later took three wickets to help deny Clive Lloyd's side a hat-trick of World Cup triumphs.

Despite entering the final as underdogs, India managed to defend its first innings total of 183, bowling out the West Indies for just 140.

"It's always been special to me, because we achieved something which probably nobody expected," Amarnath said.

"I think it was probably the beginning of the rise of Indian cricket.

"Before this ... we had not really won anything big as such, and we were losing more games than winning. That was the start, that was the beginning."

Lal's contribution to India's victory, meanwhile, is best remembered by Richards' dismissal, something he still recalls vividly.

"I was bowling quite well, but he is such a great batsman, so whatever bowling he was facing, he was hitting to the fence," the 57-year-old said.

But Richards, who was threatening to win the game off his own bat, having scored 33 runs off 27 balls before being spectacularly caught off medium-pacer Lal thanks to a brilliant catch, running backwards, by Dev.

"When great batsmen go after you, that's the only way you can get them out. He went after me, so I got him out."

Alluding to his unlikely role as hero -- Lal took just 73 wickets during his entire one-day international career -- he joked that when Richards now visits Lord's, he wonders why he tried to hit the ball that led to his dismissal.

Lal took two other key wickets, dismissing opener Desmond Haynes and middle-order batsman Larry Gomes after chipping in with 17 runs at No 9.

The pair's contributions to the match are well remembered by their former team-mates.

Asked for an enduring memory of the match, Dev said: "Mohinder Amarnath taking (middle-order batsman Jeff) Dujon out, and Dujon hitting the ground, that thing I can't forget."

It was at that moment, Lal recalled, he started to believe India would win the World Cup.

"After seven, eight wickets, we thought we were going to win it, because of the conditions, the wicket, the ball was moving a lot," he said.

On whether it was the highlight of his cricketing career, Lal required no time to think.

"Yeah, definitely."

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