Roger Binny was a member of the Kapil Dev-led squad that clinched India's first World Cup title in 1983. Thirty-six years later, in this chat with Shubham Pandey, Binny, on the sidelines of the Britannia World Cup Jao event, remembers the Indian summer in England when the team wrote a beautiful chapter in country's cricketing history.
Judging from the first two World Cups, there was nothing really to look forward to when we boarded the flight to England to take part in the 1983 Prudential World Cup. But as I look back at the journey now, the win over West Indies in the series before the World Cup had given all the players a little bit of confidence. I was not part of that team. There were a few of us who were not in that playing XI. But overall, the team's confidence was built upon that victory. That was the starter for the World Cup.
And again, I think beating West Indies in the first game of the World Cup was a big morale-booster for the team, considering the fact that it was for the first time that they had lost a match in any World Cup. It made the whole team believe that we could take charge and the confidence level was on the rise.
That (win against West Indies) victory was also the moment when we thought we are here to compete. Considering the strength of that West Indies team, beating them made us believe in ourselves. There was a lot of work to be done later on because that was just the first game but it was enough to boost our confidence going ahead in the tournament.
The other match that mattered was against Zimbabwe. At 17/5, I walked out to the middle to join Kapil (Dev). I was there in the dressing room for like 15 minutes and I was batting at number 7. Everyone in the team was tense.
At that time, nobody was really cracking jokes or anything. Everyone was sitting quietly. There were some players who stuck to superstitions where they did not get up from the seat. Nobody moved from their seats, actually. There was a lot of tension in the dressing room, considering that we had come this far in the tournament. And then at 17/5, we thought we had lost the game. That victory was going to take us to the semi-finals. I think all these things made everybody upset at that point of time. We were angry with ourselves, to be honest. But then Kapil took over.
In last 12 overs, we hit 120-odd runs I think, thanks to Syed Kirmani and Kapil Dev's contribution. That was a match of terrific contrasts for the team.
The final game again saw a disappointing batting display for us. I thought we had thrown away the game again. After reaching the semi-finals, beating England in England, beating almost all the teams actually, we thought we again let a key match slip away from our hands after getting bowled out for 183.
The domination in Kapil's voice helped us during the mid-innings break. He said if West Indies can get us out for 183, we can do the same thing. We have a bowling attack which can do this and has done this in the past. There is no reason we should give up. Let us go there and fight it out. That, sort of, lifted our confidence levels. As a result, Balwinder Sandhu got the wicket straightaway, removing Gordon Greenidge for 1.
We had them on the mat right from the start. I think the wicket that I took of Clive Llyod was important. And that is the most cherished wicket for me in that tournament. After the fall of that wicket, we started to dominate the match. He could have very easily turned the game around for West Indies.
That win meant a lot to all of us and the rest of the country. West Indies were the champions because they had the batsmen who could smash the best in the world for boundaries and they had bowlers who could bowl the quickest. They were also a brilliant fielding side. They were a dream one-day side. They walked over everybody.
We got a tremendous reception at the airport when we returned with the trophy. We did not expect such a reception, to be honest. Right from the airport to the Wankhede stadium, people followed us and went with us beside the roof-top bus, cheering us and throwing money, flowers, and garlands at us. It was the moment where everyone was happy. We had lost many matches and had not done well in the previous World Cups. The World Cup win gave a lot of joy to the people at home. They started expecting a lot from cricketers.
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