x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

When Cheeka played tongue-in-cheek style

Krishnamachari Srikkanth, the top-scorer of the 1983 World Cup final, says he was 'lucky that some shots came off'.

Srikkanth played the likes of Andy Roberts and Joel Garner aggressively despite the pressure for a good start at the final at Lord's.
Srikkanth played the likes of Andy Roberts and Joel Garner aggressively despite the pressure for a good start at the final at Lord's.

DUBAI // Krishnamachari Srikkanth is often described as the "Indiana Jones" of Indian cricket, for he batted with the spirit of an adventurer. When grafting was the norm, he was buccaneering at the crease. His methods redefined the art of batting. He was a trendsetter among swashbucklers.

While consistency was not his forte, he is still remembered as being the top scorer of the 1983 World Cup final with 38. Nicknamed Cheeka, he played some breathtaking shots during his short innings, none more pleasing than a square drive on his knees off Joel Garner. The "Big Bird" was in the middle of a fearsome spell, bending the ball like a boomerang and he had beaten Sunil Gavaskar four times in an over. But he failed to intimidate Srikkanth.

The other West Indies pace legend, Andy Roberts, was similarly treated. As Roberts dug one short, Srikkanth pulled him for a four. One English commentator said: "That was Andy's slow bouncer. He's just setting him up." Roberts did follow up with a fast bouncer and it was hooked away nonchalantly for a six. Now the Indian team's chief selector, Srikkanth revisits 1983 as the "Legends of Lord's" get ready for their reunion at The Atlantis tonight.

How would you describe your innings of 38 in the World Cup final? It has to be one of my most gratifying knocks, considering it was a World Cup final and the team needed to get off to a good start. I just played my natural game and was a bit lucky that some of the shots came off. Joel Garner took the new ball in the final. How difficult a proposition was that? Garner was close to impossible to play that morning. He was bowling quick and getting steep bounce with the new ball. Jimmy [Mohinder] Amarnath really helped me at the other end, and kept me focused. It was crucial I went for my shots and I would have fallen cheaply if I tried to defend.

Had you made any amendments to your batting style for English conditions at the World Cup? Absolutely not! I never changed the way I played regardless of the conditions, or whether it was a Test or an one-day international. What was your most memorable moment of the entire tournament? That would have to be when Kapil Dev lifted the World Cup on the balcony at Lord's. It was the feeling of being on top of the world that I will never forget.

Do you still have any souvenir from the final? Sadly, I didn't manage to grab anything. I was too slow to the pitch and didn't manage to pick up a stump before the crowd invasion. arizvi@thenational.ae