World Cup Countdown: A history of the 1983 World Cup
The victorious Indian cricket team with the 1983 World Cup at Lord's. © Getty

In the build-up to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019CricketCountry brings you the most memorable moments and matches from the tournament over the years – right from its first edition, way back in 1975. With 16 days to go, in our latest World Cup Countdown we recap the third edition of the tournament, held in 1983 in England.

The third World Cup, the last to be sponsored by the Prudential Assurance Company, began and ended with Kapil Dev‘s Indian cricket team (quoted at 66 to 1 before the competition began) beating West Indies,  two-time world champions.

India arrived in England in 1983 without expectations. In two World Cups they had beaten only East Africa and lost to Sri Lanka, a team yet to be granted Test status. What unfolded was a magical and memorable journey that culminated in a historic day at Lord’s, one that put India on the map and forever changed the course of the 50-over game.

india 1983 world cup team
The Indian cricket team poses for a photo ahead of the 1983 World Cup. © Getty

Publicly, only one individual, the Australian captain Kim Hughes, had seen the spark in the Indian team before the tournament, which prompted him to call them the dark horses of the tournament. Perhaps what unfolded was beyond even his expectation.

(READ: Minnows Zimbabwe stun Australia at 1983 World Cup)

This Prudential Cup, as the previous two, had two groups but this time each team played the others it in its group twice instead of once to determine the four semi-finalists. England dominated Group A by twice disposing of Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and were joined in the semi-finals by Pakistan, who barely managed to sneak in owing to a marginally higher run rate than New Zealand.

For the first time, non-Test grounds were used and it was one such venue, the charming Neville Ground in Tonbridge Wells, which Kapil chose to become the inspiration behind India’s World Cup success, which came after years of under-achievement in the ODI format.

(READ: Winston Davis bags ODI’s first seven-wicket-haul)

He got his team firing with a stunning 138-ball unbeaten 175, which included 16 fours and six sixes, against Zimbabwe and the Indians carried that momentum into the semis, making history at Chelmsford thanks largely to Roger Binny and Madan Lal who were superb in medium-pace tandem.

Such was the nature of the 1983 World Cup, where surprises were the norm.

1983 world cup final scorecard
Fans invade the Lord’s pitch as soon as India beat West Indies in the final. © Getty

India then toppled hosts England in the semi-final, with Mohinder Amarnath turning in a fine all-round display and Yashpal Sharma emerging from relative obscurity with a stylish 61. They followed that by defeating West Indies, who had brushed aside Australia and Zimbabwe in the league and Pakistan in the semi-finals.

(READ: Martin Snedden first to concede 100 runs in ODIs)

India, with just 17 wins in their first nine years of playing ODI cricket, were considered fortunate to just be at a World Cup final. Up against the mighty West Indies, two-time winners of the tournament, meant that they were but lambs to the slaughter. When India were reduced to 183, it was all going to script. But then something extraordinary happened. Inspired by an unforgettable running catch by Kapil, lithe and gliding across the outfield like a flannelled gazelle, India’s bowlers turned canny, the fielders electric, and West Indies complacent. Like that, in a blaze of glory, the rank outsiders had overcame gargantuan odds and stood atop the word.

India’s victory remains the biggest upset ever in international cricket, but beyond all the glory that it brought the country, India’s success at Lord’s made cricket a global sport.