x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Honour in Devils' names

Ajay Sethi was a teenager when India scripted that memorable win at Lord's on June 25 1983.

Kapil Dev, left, and Sunil Gavaskar flank Ajay Sethi at the announcement of the event.
Kapil Dev, left, and Sunil Gavaskar flank Ajay Sethi at the announcement of the event.

DUBAI // Ajay Sethi was a teenager when India scripted that memorable win at Lord's on June 25 1983. He was glued to his TV and scampered to the radio every time Doordarshan - India's state and only broadcaster those days - lost the feed from London. "It is one of the most memorable nights I have ever had. I still get the goose bumps," recalls the chairman of the Channel 2 Group Corporation, who will host the Indian "Legends of Lord's" at The Atlantis hotel tomorrow evening.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the Minister of Higher Education, will be the guest of honour and will felicitate "Kapil's Devils", who defied the odds to win the World Cup. It has been 25 years since that monumental evening, but the events are still fresh in the collective memory of a billion. Some have hailed it as the greatest day in Indian history, since gaining independence from Britain. Others describe it as the moment when the wheels of Indian cricket turned. The riches that adorn the game in India today are due only the efforts of those unrelenting 14, led by the indomitable Kapil Dev.

"Whenever I see a rerun of that match, it's like I am watching an Indian blockbuster that I have seen a 100 times," Sethi says. "You know it is that match in a second. People remember every moment from that game - how Mohinder Amarnath took the last wicket; how Kapil Dev took Viv Richards' catch, running back and how Balwinder Singh Sandhu bowled Gordon Greenidge. "I don't know of any other match with such recall value. These scenes have been etched in the memories of Indian cricket fans for an eternity."

And to honour these men and their triumph, Sethi decided to host a function to celebrate the silver jubilee of their conquest. He picked The Atlantis on Palm Jumeirah for the occasion since he wanted a "venue that should meet the stature" of the legends he is hosting. "Sheikh Nahyan is a great man and you can gauge his love for cricket through [his work at] the Abu Dhabi Cricket Council," Sethi says. "He has given a lot his time to the game here in the UAE and I believe he is the best person to honour the Indian legends."

A diamond studded trophy worth Dh1million will be displayed on the night and it will be put up for auction for two months with the proceedings to be distributed among the winning team. "Cricketers today make so much through endorsements," Sethi adds. "None of the members of that 1983 team were fortunate enough to make monetary gains from their success. "Only a few have made it big through television. So I think it is a good idea to felicitate them here and reward them financially too.

"There will be a few other surprises during the night including one from a real estate company." A few moments will also be dedicated to honour the memory of one of the Indian team's opponents from that evening. Malcolm Marshall, one of the greatest fast bowler to have played the game, passed away in 1999 due to colon cancer. arizvi@thenational.ae