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The third World Cup, the last to be sponsored by the Prudential Assurance Company, began with two fine surprises, when India beat West Indies and Zimbabwe beat Australia in the opening round of matches, and ended with the greatest surprise of all, when India beat West Indies again, this time in the final at Lord's. None of the eight sides had to make do without a victory.
The competition differed from its two predecessors in that in the preliminary groups the sides played each other not once but twice. This was partly to increase revenue but also to lessen the chances of a side being eliminated through having greater misfortune with the weather than its rivals. In the event, no sooner had the sides started to arrive in England for the 1983 World Cup than the rain, which had made the month of May one of the wettest on record, cleared away.
Of the 27 matches played, only three were not begun and finished in a day. Many were played in warm sunshine, and throughout the competition, from June 9-25, interest ran high. After losing their opening match, West Indies carried all before them until failing, for the first time, to win the final. Australia had a disappointing fortnight, and with Imran Khan unfit to bowl for them, Pakistan were a shadow of the side which had trounced India and Australia in the previous winter.
New Zealand's main batting provided them with insufficient runs for a consistent challenge, while Sri Lanka, though they won their return match against New Zealand, were too short of bowling to be a serious threat. Zimbabwe, playing for the first time, having qualified as winners of the ICC Trophy in 1982, made a welcome contribution. Their side included several players with first-class experience, acquired when, as Rhodesia, their country played in the Currie Cup. Apart from beating Australia they gave West Indies a run for their money at Worcester.
India's unexpected success (they were quoted at 66 to 1 before the competition began) came under a young and relatively new captain (Kapil Dev) and owed much to the presence in their side of three all-rounders (Kapil Dev, Roger Binny and Mohinder Amarnath) who, at critical moments, found enough in the conditions to help form an effective attack. Who would ever have thought before a ball was bowled that the leading wicket-takers in the competition would be the Sri Lankan De Mel and Binny, with his gentle medium-pace?
Each side received 60 overs. No bowler was allowed more than twelve overs per innings and, to prevent negative bowling, the umpires applied a stricter interpretation than in first-class cricket in regard to wides and bumpers.
The total amount of the Prudential Assurance Company's sponsorship was £500,000, and the gate receipts came to £1,195,712. The aggregate attendance was 232,081, compared with 160,000 in 1975 and 132,000 in 1979. The surplus, distributed to full and associate members of the International Cricket Conference, was in excess of £1,000,000, this being over and above the prior payments of £53,900 to each of the seven full members and one of £30,200 to Zimbabwe.
In addition to the Trophy and silver-gilt medals for each player, India received £20,000 for their victory. As runners-up West Indies won £8,000. The losing semi-finalists, England and Pakistan, each won £4,000. There were also awards of £1,000 to the group winners, plus Man of the Match awards (£200 for the group matches, £400 for the semi-finals and £600 for the final).
At their meeting which followed the World Cup, the ICC asked for tenders, to be submitted by the end of 1983, from countries wishing to stage the competition when next it is held.
Match reports for