x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Kapil's team had spirit

Kapil Dev, a legend of the World Cup final in 1983, became an instant hero in that unforgettable evening at Lord's.

DUBAI // It has been more than 25 years since Kapil Dev held aloft the World Cup trophy on June 25, 1983, at Lord's. A 24-year-old then, with just four years of international cricket behind him, he became an instant legend. His wide toothy smile warmed the hearts of a generation. The "Haryana Hurricane", a son of agrarian India, still carries the same rustic charm. Ask him about his most memorable moment aside from that unforgettable evening at Lord's, Kapil replies without a pause: "Being born."

The quick quip leaves his team-mates of 1983, media and guests in fits of laughter. Kapil is grinning from ear to ear, lighting up the ballroom at the magnificent Atlantis with his smile. The "Legends of Lord's" were having a ball again together last night in Dubai to celebrate the silver jubilee of that incredible win. While the captain is modest about his feat, his predecessor is effusive in his praise of India's "Cricketer of the Century".

"Kapil's leadership was phenomenal," said Sunil Gavaskar. "His innings of 175 against Zimbabwe brought us back into the reckoning for a place in the knock-out stage of the tournament. It made us believe that we could do it. That's probably the best one-day innings that I have seen." "I was just the opening batsman who went there and marked my presence," added the batting legend about his own performance in the World Cup.

Just before Gavaskar spoke, Ravi Shastri, the youngest member of that side, rose from where he was seated with Kapil, Gavaskar and the organisers and announced: "This place belongs to Mohinder Amarnath." "That sums up the kind of team spirit we had in 1983," added Gavaskar. "You will find some outstanding individual performances. But, as we all know, if you flick someone with your fingers, it is not as affective or as painful when you close our fingers together and then punch.

"And that's what happened. There were guys who might not have taken heaps of wickets; there were guys who didn't score too many runs; but everybody combined together, not just on the field, but off the field as well in terms of strategising and making sure that the morale of guys not doing well was up. "Generally, it was one of the most memorable of tours. Of course, when we won, it was the crowning glory. But the whole trip was entirely memorable because of the camaraderie that was there in the team.

"I would like to thank [organisers] Ajay [Sethi] and Imran [Khan] for making this event possible, simply because it has given us another opportunity to get together and to relive those moments and go on a nostalgia trip. "Actually, we don't go too much on the nostalgia trip; we are actually exchanging notes as to what happened. The reunion is the most important thing as far as I am concerned." Talking of that moment of triumph, Kapil admits he doesn't remember much of the final moments. "When Amarnath trapped Michael Holding lbw, we went blank in our heads," he said. "We didn't know what hit us. You do lose your mind at such moments."

As Kapil and his Devils went blank at the Lord's, they became a part of India's collective consciousness. arizvi@thenational.ae