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Amarnath ambles to glory

Jayaditya Gupta
Amiable, apologetic, lazy, relaxed Mohinder Amarnath put in a Man-of-the-Match performance in the 1983 World Cup final

In a team full of unlikely heroes, he was the unlikeliest; his batting was workmanlike, his bowling innocuous. Yet till this day, Mohinder Amarnath's name is a metaphor for the spirit and commitment of India's 1983 cup-winning team.

After Lloyd won the toss in the final and put India in, his pace quartet of Roberts, Garner, Holding and Marshall had done its work: India 183 all out, kept in the contest thanks to Kris Srikkanth's incandescent 38 and Amarnath's "composed play against pace" - as Kapil Dev put it - in scoring 26.

Indeed, by the time of this match, Amarnath had established quite a reputation for standing up to the West Indies attack; the moustache he sported through the World Cup was to hide the remains of the 25 stitches he'd required after being hit by a Marshall special on India's tour of the Caribbean weeks earlier.

The chase turned on two moments of sheer brilliance. First, Balwinder Singh Sandhu's inswinger clipped Gordon Greenidge's off bail and West Indies slipped to 5 for 1. Next, Kapil's famous catch to dismiss a rampaging Viv Richards.

From 50 for 1, West Indies were reeling at 66 for 5, then 76 for 6. But then the tail began to wag as Jeff Dujon and Marshall strung together a healthy partnership. Enter Amarnath and his dibbly-dobblys, and he removed both batsmen to leave West Indies at 124 for 8. The writing was on the wall, and soon Amarnath made sure it was indelible by removing Holding. West Indies were all out for 140, India won by 43 runs.

Amarnath's contribution may seem less consequential when compared to the relative pyrotechnics of Sandhu and Kapil but his figures - 7-0-12-3 - speak of how he choked off West Indies' relatively sober fightback after the big guns collapsed under the weight of hubris.

Amiable, apologetic, lazy, relaxed. On that mad, typically chaotic Indian summer's day, Mohinder Amarnath turned those adjectives - and the bookies' odds - on their collective head. Cricket has changed so much we probably won't again see such an unassuming performance to win a World Cup final.

Jayaditya Gupta is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo in India