India beat Pakistan to win the World Championship of Cricket
Being the second-largest cricket stadium in the world and the largest in India, Eden Gardens has been one of the premium venues for India © Getty Images

The first round of ICC World T20 2016 has commenced, with eight teams vying for the two spots and joining other eight Test playing nations in the main round. As it has been the case in last few years for any tournament being played in Indian subcontinent, the Indian cricket team has been tipped to win the title by majority of cricket pundits. But this was never the case in the past, as there was a time when Team India played just to make up the numbers. They were considered poor travellers and were pushovers in any multi-nation tournament outside Asia.

However, things changed after the 1983 World Cup, where the underdogs India stunned the world by beating two-time winners and the defending champions West Indies. Defeating a far superior team and winning the World Cup inspired an entire new generation of kids to take up the sport in the country. Moreover, the effect of that special win rubbed on the team and lasted for a long time, eventually helping them win the World Championship Cricket a couple of years later in Australia. The background of the tournament was commemoration of the 150th anniversary of European settlement in Victoria, Australia. All the then seven Test playing nations were a part of it.

The format was such that the seven teams were divided into two groups of three and four teams, where each one of them played the other team from the group in round-robin format. Top two teams from both the groups then progressed to the semi-final. India, easily one of the popular teams after winning the World Cup and being the title holders, had a great run in the championship, as they won all the games in the league stage quite comprehensively, beating Pakistan, Australia and England.

In the other group, the then No. 1 side West Indies and New Zealand sailed through in an easy group of three teams, with the weakest side Sri Lanka being the third team. In the semi-final, India got past New Zealand quite easily while Pakistan sprung a surprise to eliminate the title favourites West Indies to set up another clash with India.

The final

Pakistan won the toss and decided to bat first at the MCG. The decision soon backfired as they were reduced to 33 for 4, with Kapil Dev taking three of them while Chetan Sharma, who was not the first choice but got to play after Roger Binny was down with a virus, picking the remaining one. Skipper Javed Miandad and Imran Khan did try to revive the innings, but Laxman Sivaramakrishnan’s 3 for 35 ensured they did not go past 176.

In reply, India chased down the total by losing just two wickets, thanks to their openers Ravi Shastri and Kris Srikkanth who added 103 for the first wicket. Their solid opening stands throughout the series were a hallmark of India’s campaign. Srikkanth won the Man-of-the-Match for his 77-ball 67 while Shastri was declared the Man-of-the-Series or the Champion of Champions for his 182 runs and eight wickets in the series. The series was dominated by the Indians, as the top-three run-getters and wicket-takers were from India.

Reception

Shastri’s prize involved an Audi 100 car, which was valued at A$ 35,000. An elated all-rounder got into the driver’s seat and was soon joined by all his teammates, who took every possible place in and on the car. The team drove around the MCG in a lap of honour in front of a 35,000-plus strong crowd. The attendance witnessed by the match was the highest in Australia in a non-Australia match. The team got a standing ovation from the spectators and earned tremendous respect by the fans worldwide. The opposition teams, who still somewhere felt that the World Cup 1983 win was a fluke, also started respecting India after this win.

Brief Scores:

India 177 for 2 in 47.1 overs (K Srikkanth 67, Ravi Shastri 63*) bt Pakistan 176 for 9 in 50 overs (Javed Miandad 48, Imran Khan 35; Kapil Dev 3-23, L Sivaramakrishnan 3 -35) by eight wickets.

(A self-confessed cricket freak, Chinmay Jawalekar is a senior writer with CricLife and CricketCountry. When not writing or following cricket, he loves to read, eat and sleep. He can be followed here @CricfreakTweets)