Former India batsman Kirti Azad has said he as well as most of his former teammates never thought they would win the 1983 World Cup in England. Part of the team that won the historic World Cup, he recalled the famous English summer and how the odds were firmly stacked against India.
Kirti Azad recalled he and several other former Indian cricketers were in England that time playing as professionals before the World Cup. The likes of Madan Lal, Mohinder Amarnath, Ravi Shastri and Dilip Vengsarkar were plying their trades for English counties.
“Great, great memories. I was playing in England as a profession in England at time, for Lancashire. There were quite a few of us. Madan Lal was there, Jimmy Amarnath was there, then Sunil Valson was there, Ravi Shastri was playing there. Dilip Vengsarkar was also playing there,” Kirti Azad told CricketAddictor in an exclusive interview.
“That was a great summer. We didn’t have much rain. It was dry and nice. Whatever pitches we were getting were like Indian pitches. There was no grass. The ball was coming nicely to the bat,” he added.
He further recalled how his former captain Kapil Dev gave him the news of his selection in the World Cup squad and how he thought that being in the team just extended his holiday as the team had no chance of winning the tournament.
“I remember, I got a call early morning from Kapil, saying ‘congratulations Kirti, tera naam aa gya (Congratulates Kirti, you are selected)’. I said ‘Thank you Kapil, 1 mahine ka free paid holiday mil gya (Thank you Kapil. We have got a free paid holiday for a month),” he said.
“Out of the eight teams that were there, we were one above the bottom. Last was Zimbabwe and it was 66 to 1 if India wins. We also thought we would never win because of the other great sides. We had no chance, nobody had given us any chance,” added Azad who played a big role in the semifinal win over hosts England.
The Kapil Dev-led side went on to defy all the odds to win the competition. In the final India defeated the mighty West Indies while defending just 183 to win their first-ever World Cup.
Kirti Azad also revealed that the team had lost all the three warm-up games against the likes of Sri Lanka and university teams. He then went on to give the credit for the historic win to Kapil Dev and hailed him as the greatest all-rounder of all time. He called him better than the likes of Richard Hadlee and Ian Botham.