My First World Cup January 8, 2014

The sightseers who won a world title

India's 1983 World Cup squad was more keen to take in the sights of London than worry about facing Marshall and Co

Sandeep Patil contributed to the campaign with an unbeaten 32-ball 51 in the semi-final against England © Getty Images

Back in 1983, the World Cup wasn't like it is now. I don't remember us having any preparatory camp before we left for England. One-day matches themselves were few and far between.

India were nowhere in contention. The team had hardly performed well in the previous two editions. So as we left India, virtually all of us were in a holiday mood. Cricket was not the first thing on our minds. Barring Sunny [Sunil Gavaskar] and Kapil [Dev], all of us were playing our first World Cup, and most of us were touring England for the first time.

So more than thinking about facing Malcolm Marshall, Bob Willis and Jeff Thomson, we were engrossed in planning our sightseeing activities. After getting to London, we were excited to see Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square. In hindsight, perhaps that worked for us.

In our tournament opener, we beat West Indies. None of us could believe we had.

Then things just fell in place as if we had planned them to perfection. But to be honest, our planning was minuscule and much of that was thanks to our captain and the very short team meetings we had. Since Kapil was not very eloquent in English nor much in Hindi, he would end up saying, "Sheron, jeet lo! [Go win it, tigers!]" It was simple stuff. It allowed us to express ourselves freely right through the tournament and had a big impact on us returning home with the trophy.

More than our win against West Indies, which surprised us as much as it did everyone else, what really gave us hope of making it to the knockouts was Zimbabwe's surprise win over Australia. The Zimbabweans were playing their debut World Cup and shocked Australia in their first match. On the same day we beat West Indies. It gave us the belief that unless we fared utterly miserably, we could hang in there and feature in the semi-finals.

That is precisely what we did. Each of us pitched in in a big way in at least one match. Roger [Binny] and Jimmy [Mohinder Amarnath] were the only two consistent players through the tournament. Everyone else played around them, which helped us do the unthinkable.

Kapil Dev: not a loquacious captain
Kapil Dev: not a loquacious captain © Getty Images

Looking back at the journey, I somehow feel we were destined to win. Had Kapil not played the best knock in ODI history, against Zimbabwe, had Yashpal Sharma and myself not hung around in the semi-final, had Ballu [Balwinder Sandhu] not bowled that great inswinger to stun Gordon Greenidge, had I been standing at midwicket in place of Kapil when Viv Richards mistimed a pull in the final, we would not have won the World Cup. But it had to happen somehow. And it did.

I can never forget a funny incident from the final. When Vivian Richards was going after our bowlers, it looked like the match would get over early. I was fielding at deep square leg and Pammi [Marshneil, Gavaskar's wife] was sitting in the players' families' enclosure behind me. She shouted at me to pass on a message to Sunil to meet her in St John's Wood about 15 minutes after the end of the final. I ran in during a change of ends and conveyed the message. In the very next over, Richards got out and the tide turned in our favour. I don't think Pammi got to see Sunil for a long time after the final! And she didn't mind either.

As told to Amol Karhadkar, a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo