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World Cup Vignette

Kapil Dev gets Viv Richards at the 1983 World Cup final

The catch that brought down a titan, and made Indian cricket's most unlikely achievement possible

Kamran Abbasi
Kamran Abbasi
In 1983, West Indies were unbeatable. They possessed the most fearsome bowling attack and possibly the most brutal batting line-up that anybody had ever witnessed. The first two World Cups had been demonstrations of Caribbean brilliance. The 1979 victory - a strutting, muscular annihilation of England - established Clive Lloyd's team as the kings of cricket.
The 1983 World Cup was following a predictable script. West Indies stormed to the final, and only Kapil Dev's Indian team provided a romantic antidote to their muscle, with a silky middle order and an arsenal of friendly medium-pacers.
India's arrival in the final was fun but never a threat. Indeed, once Messrs Marshall, Garner, Holding, and Roberts had despatched India for 183, the only disappointment was that Viv Richards would be denied a second successive World Cup final century.
As if mindful of that predicament, Richards set off like a train - a nuclear-powered one - and India's powder-puff attack was just that.
But then something peculiar happened. Madan Lal persuaded Richards into a mistimed hook over midwicket. The ball rose like a missile, swirling wildly in its descent, and as Kapil ran back, the pressure of the moment and the inevitability of Richards' triumph meant that nobody expected him to pouch it. But he did - over his shoulder.
Time stopped in complete disbelief; the King had fallen. Some observers swore that Kapil smiled as he prepared for the plummeting cricket ball of history.
India were ecstatic, West Indies in disarray - such disarray that they collapsed feebly to defeat. The Caribbean empire had fallen, and an Asian giant was awake.
This article was first published in 2014

Kamran Abbasi is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine