‘England were going great guns when Kapil threw the ball to Jimmy and then to me.’
Kirti Azad reveals the camaraderie between the seniors and younger players in India’s 1983 World Cup team in the second part an exclusive interview with Rediff.com‘s Harish Kotian.
- Part 1 of the interview: ‘We never took any tension, we played the game as it came’
Kapil Dev’s inspirational leadership is said to be one of the main factors in India’s World Cup win. Kapil was quite young then, he was just 24, but he led from the front with both bat and ball. Tell us about his captaincy during the World Cup.
Five of us were the same age — me, Ravi Shastri, Kris Srikkanth, Sunil Valson. Dilip Vengsarkar was about a few years elder to us, Sandeep Patil was a couple of years elder to us, so if you look at it, half the side was almost two or three years apart.
We obviously had more senior players like Jimmy Amarnath who was the senior most, then we had Sunil Gavaskar, Syed Kirmani, Madan Lal. So you had a few of these senior players, but they were always there to support and help, there were no ego clashes, nothing of that sort and there was a great camaraderie in the side.
How was the atmosphere in the dressing room? Was it a serious place or were there a lot of jokes flying around?
There was a lot of fun, pulling each other’s leg was on all the time.
We had fun, there was no restriction. We even pulled Kapil’s leg because he was our contemporary, same age, so he never minded it.
The seniors, we would never really touch, but at times they would joke with us to make us feel relaxed. So it was something which was a great blend of experience and youth.
In the semi-final against England, you and Mohinder Amarnath bowling in tandem dried up the boundaries, which resulted in the run out of Allan Lamb.
Amarnath also got the two big wickets of David Gower and Mike Gatting while you bagged the big wicket of dangerman Ian Botham.
Tell us about that magical delivery to Botham because it turned quite sharply and also kept a bit low to beat his attempted cut shot.
See, all stroke players want the ball to come on to the bat. Jimmy (Amarnath) and I, we have a record of bowling 24 overs in tandem without a break.
Jimmy bowled 12 from one end and I bowled 12 from one end, we gave only 55 runs and picked up four wickets (including the run out of Lamb).
It was more like an Indian wicket which was slow and low and stroke-making was not that easy. So when the new ball was there and our seamers were bowling, the ball was coming on to the bat. And the England batsmen managed 96/2 in 25 overs, when scoring at four or five runs per over was very good those days. Nowadays, even 10 overs per over or above are chased.
England were going great guns when Kapil threw the ball to Jimmy and then to me. So I decided that the wicket being slow and low, I would blow slower.
Rather than give the batsmen the opportunity for the ball to come on to the bat and hit it hard and get runs, I would bowl slower and with the ball not coming on to the bat, strokemaking would be difficult.
The wicket suited me and the conditions suited me so I started bowling really slow. And once Botham came, I started bowling slower because that guy massacare any team any time, he was a big player. He was hated by all Indians.
So when Botham came I gave him a tough time in the first couple of overs, he tried to reverse sweep, he tried to hit me, but since the ball was not coming and the wicket was slow and low he was getting frustrated.
And trying to force the pace and trying to get runs, he went back to cut, but it was a very slow delivery which kept low and turned and hit the base of the stumps.
So that was the best way I thought of getting him because when you bowl really slow, it is difficult for a batsman to hit you hard.
Although I have joked many a times when people asked me how it happened and all that… so I made up a story to make it look nice that Kapil came and asked me that ‘Either the ball will keep low or it will turn, how did you manage both?’ and I replied to Kapil saying it was a trade secret.
But honestly, even I don’t know how it happened. It was a slow and low wicket, obviously you don’t give the batsmen an opportunity to hit you.
In a Test match, a person might wait for the bad ball to hit you, but in one-day cricket he is always in a hurry and that was Botham’s nemesis.
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