It almost seems impossible to imagine a time when India had not been crowned World Champions in cricket, but in reality, it was not that long ago when this was the case. On the 25th of June, 1983, India defeated the West Indies by 43 runs in London, after which they lifted their first ever cricket World Cup. While the team was full of players who inspired a generation of Indians to take up the sport, there was one man in particular who was the heart and soul of the squad, Kapli Dev. The impact of this victory was so great that to this day India cricket matches are treated as special events to be enjoyed and cherished by everyone in the country. Click here to read more about current matches, only possible thanks to Dev’s legacy.
Kapli Dev was the kind of talent that only ever comes along once in a blue moon. To this day, even if you whisper his name in any part of India, a cheer will be heard or the vibrations of a round of applause felt. As captain of the team, he did as any great captain should and led by example. A magician with both bat and ball, he truly goes down in history as one of the greatest all-rounders to have ever played the sport. India went into the semi-final of the 1983 tournament as underdogs, facing an England side on home turf who were full of confidence. Backed by the home crowd, there was real sense throughout the country that England were finally going to get their hands on the Cricket World Cup for the first time in their history.
However, Kapli Dev had different ideas. There was something uniquely calming about watching him on the field. No matter the circumstance, he exuded a sense of calm and professionalism that spread throughout his team mates. Based on their impressive previous records both in one-day internationals and at the World Cup, the Indian team were expected to bow out of the competition early, but instead India produced the upset of all upsets and secured their rightful place in the final for the first time ever. Following their semi-final win, which they won comfortably by six wickets, it quickly became more than just a dream, there was an actual chance that India would be returning home as World Cup champions. A pitch invasion signalled the end of the semi final win, and the smiles on the faces of the Indian players revealed a steely determination, it said they were delighted to be in the final but still focused enough to know that the biggest hurdle was still to come.
It is worth pointing out that while Kapli Dev was the talisman of the 1983 Indian side, it was far from a one-man team. A special mention must also be reserved for Mohinder Amarnath who was awarded the ‘Man of the Match’ Award in both the semi-final and the final, a player who was fundamental to India winning the competition. Despite their remarkable performance in the semi-final victory over England, they once again went into the final as underdogs. The West Indies awaited them in the final and everything seemed poised to conclude with The West Indies taking the honours for a third time in a row. The West Indies side were regarded by many as the best cricket team of the decade, and were out to cement their rightful place as one of the best of all time.
Many opposing teams would have seen The West Indies team sheet going into the final and buckled at the knees in fear. However, this Indian side took the other route and decided that having already unexpectedly reached the final, they had nothing left to lose. Led by Kapli Dev, India did the impossible and delivered one of the greatest performances in cricket history. Eventually, India would win the match by 43 runs in what was nothing short of a remarkable team effort. Kapli Dev would go on to lift the trophy on the balcony of Lord’s Cricket Ground, an image that is still burned deep into the hearts of Indian cricket fans to this day.
This victory truly was not only one of the most important and significant events in the history of Indian cricket, but it also had a profound cultural impact back in India. Overnight, it propelled cricket from the label of a sport into that of a religion in India, a transformation that is still clearly evident to this day. Every member of the 1983 World Cup winning Indian cricket team was instantly immortalised and will forever be hailed as heroes in their homeland, truly loved to this day. Everyone in the country was inspired to pick up a cricket bat as soon as the 1983 final came to a close, which has since cemented India as one of the powerhouses within the sport of cricket.
Sport is often spoken about for its ability to inspire and to bring people together. For India to finally win their first World Cup in 1983, it did just that. At one point in time, field hockey was considered the most popular sport in India, but it is abundantly obvious that cricket now reigns supreme. This is why the name of Kapli Dev is so revered to this day in India. He truly changed the landscape of sport and culture for an entire nation, a feat that very few if any could have said to have achieved. His impact was so great that cricket is very often the first word that comes to mind when one thinks of India, which in itself is a true sign of what the 1983 World Cup victory meant to the country as a whole. So, if you ever hear anyone ponder why India is so obsessed with cricket again, you only need to say two words… Kapli Dev.