'...we got it from the West Indies dressing room!'
The World Cup victory in 1983 was a watershed moment for Indian cricket.
After coming into the tournament as ranked underdogs, India exceeded all expectations as they beat the mighty West Indies to win their first World Cup.
Kirti Azad says the Indian team never gave up hope even after being bowled out for 183 in the final. 'Let them fight for every run, let's fight till the end,' was the talk in the Indian dressing room, Azad recalls in the concluding segment of an exclusive interview with Rediff.com's Harish Kotian.
- Part 1 of the Azad Interview: 'We never took any tension, we played the game as it came'
- Part 2 of the Azad Interview: 'We even pulled Kapil's leg'
The win against England gave India a lot of confidence, but it was the victory in the first match of the World Cup against the West Indies which set the tone for India.
How important was that victory against the West Indies in the first game?
The West Indies hadn't lost a game till that point. They had the best battery of fast bowlers, they had the best batsmen including Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd. Obviously that team was invincible.
And you beat that side by 33 runs, very comprehensively, so it gives you a lot of morale-boosting and obviously it did a lot too.
In the final against the West Indies despite getting bowled out for 183, the Indian team never lost hope.
What was the team talk in the dressing room during the innings break?
Well, we had scored 183 and they had to get those runs. Let them fight for every run, let's fight till the end.
Then you had that delivery from Balwinder Singh Sandhu, which came in and you had Gordon Greenidge leaving it and getting bowled, then there was Kapil's catch (of Richards), and wickets kept falling one after other.
We kept things tight, it was again a slow and low wicket.
During the day, it was a green top with a little bit of moisture, which did us, but in the second half it was a great batting track yet we got them because we kept to a good line and length, and we knew if we put the West Indies under pressure, they crumble under pressure.
Tell us how did you the Indian team celebrate the World Cup win? How was the scene inside the dressing room?
We didn't have any champagne bottle so we had go into the West Indies dressing room and get it from there.
Kapil was carrying one champagne bottle right from the beginning and we used to tease him 'yaar, kya rakha hua hain tune? (Hey, why are you keeping it?) 'Give it to us and we will chill it and drink it'.
But he was very possessive. And that is the bottle he opened it after the final as you saw in the Lord's balcony.
Some of us went into the West Indies dressing room and they were very angry and said, 'Just take it away!' So there were these huge Magnum champagne bottles that we got for free.
Were you surprised by how people celebrated the World Cup win in India? It sort of brought the country together and it was perhaps the first time people celebrated any sporting triumph with such passion and happiness...
Well yes, India became a cricketing superpower after that. The next World Cup came to India, sponsorships started coming into cricket. Otherwise the Board was in debt of Rs 2 crore at the time of playing the World Cup and they didn't have money.
Lata Mangeshkarji said she would do a Lata Mangeshkar concert for us, that got us Rs 1 lakh each. We played for passion and love of the game, for the country, and not for money.
When we became the cricketing superpower, the World Cup came (in 1987), the ICC was till that point of time by only England or Australian and India is now a superpower there, so that was all possible because of that.
ESPN came here after seeing the popularity of Indian cricket after the victory, so television commercials started coming in, and all those things started happening.
So we are basically the pioneers, we are the ones who started that trend.
The 1983 World Cup team still shares a close bond and you have a Whatsapp group to communicate regularly. Tell me what are the plans for June 25th?
We are all getting together in Mumbai, we do that every year.
Anything from the BCCI to celebrate the 40th anniversary of India's first World Cup win?
No, no, nothing from the Board. Why would they bother? They are bothered about earning money.