India’s 1983 cricket World Cup triumph

From underdog to champion at Lord’s

By Google Arts & Culture

Illustrations by Srishti Gupta Roy

India wins its first Cricket World Cup by Srishti Guptaroy

On June 25, 1983, the Indian cricket team defeated West Indies, the two-time reigning champions, to lift the World Cup at the Lord’s Cricket Ground. The day marked the first such win for India at the global stage.

Led by all-rounder Kapil Dev and nicknamed ‘Kapil’s Devils’, the Indian side featured Mohinder Amarnath, Roger Binny, Yashpal Sharma, and Sandeep Patil, among others. They were considered underdogs, having won just a single match in their two previous World Cup outings – beating

India wins its first Cricket World Cup by Srishti Guptaroy

Getting ahead of the group

Eight teams participated in the 1983 World Cup, only the third of its kind, hosted in England and Wales. 

India won four out of its six group matches. The team pulled off an upset in the opening match, defeating the favorites West Indies by 34 runs. Yashpal Sharma’s 89 runs, and Roger Binny and Ravi Shastri’s three wickets each helped them along. 

They also beat Zimbabwe twice and Australia once, to qualify for the semifinals. 

Meanwhile, West Indies did not drop any subsequent group stage matches – winning five out of six. They avenged the lone loss in their next group clash with India, outperforming them by 66 runs.


India and West Indies went forward from Group B. England and Pakistan advanced from Group A.

India wins its first Cricket World Cup by Srishti Guptaroy

The ‘lost’ captain’s knock

A major challenge for India in the group stage came against Zimbabwe, who had just defeated mighty Australia. The team found themselves five wickets down with just 17 runs on the board. 

Kapil Dev produced an astonishing 175 off 138 balls to take the total to 266 runs. They bowled out their opponents for 235. Unfortunately, no footage of that incredible turnaround is available as BBC technicians were on strike and the match was not telecast. 

India wins its first Cricket World Cup by Srishti Guptaroy

Seizing the semifinal

India had never reached the knockout stage in a World Cup before. They lost the toss to England and were asked to bowl. 

The host country slumped with just 213 runs on the board, thanks in part to Kapil Dev’s 3-wicket haul. 

Yashpal Sharma’s 61 runs walked India to a comfortable 6-wicket victory. In the other semifinal, West Indies squashed Pakistan’s chances with similar ease, winning by 8 wickets.

India wins its first Cricket World Cup by Srishti Guptaroy

The final faceoff

India and West Indies, who had each defeated the other once in the tournament, met again in the final. Asked to bat, India collapsed at only 183 runs, Kris Srikkanth’s 38 runs being the only sizeable contribution. 

Kapil Dev, despite his excellent form in the tournament, was dismissed for 15 runs.

In the chase, West Indies looked formidable with Viv Richards in a hurry to put big runs on the board. That was until Madan Lal, whose previous over had seen three deliveries smashed to the boundary, struck. 

With 33 runs to his name, Richards flicked a ball in the air, and was caught out by Kapil Dev after a dramatic backwards jog from midwicket.   

Lal took two more wickets, while Mohinder Amarnath bagged three. The opponents folded up for 140 runs. India, the new world champion, had won by 43 runs.

India wins its first Cricket World Cup by Srishti Guptaroy

“We played like winners throughout the series. Everybody said we will fight for our lives, we will do it,” the captain said in his post-match interview.

In India, as loud firecrackers set off everywhere, one foreign correspondent reported: “It sounded as if war had broken out.” 

India wins its first Cricket World Cup by Srishti Guptaroy

The BCCI, not cash-rich at the time, would request Lata Mangeshkar to sing pro-bono at a fundraiser so it could pay a reward of Rs 100,000 (about $9525, at 1983 exchange rates) each to the 14 members of the cricket squad. 

The 1983 win filled Indians with hope. Famously, among the millions celebrating was a 10-year-old Sachin Tendulkar who felt determined at that moment to become a professional cricketer.

Credits: Story

Illustrations by Srishti Gupta Roy

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