Members of 1983 World Cup winning team never thought of even reaching the semi-finals but it was their "mad" skipper Kapil Dev's inspirational leadership that guided them to the coveted trophy, said chief India selector Krishnamachari Srikkanth.
Srikkanth, one of the key members of the squad that beat the mighty West Indies twice in 1983 World Cup including in the final, said many players had even booked flight tickets for United States for holidaying after the tournament as they thought they would not go beyond the group stage.
"None of players thought we would reach semi-finals. So, many booked flight tickets for United States. The plan was to watch the semi-final and final and then fly to US for holiday.
The tour agent said even my wife can come as I married in March 1983. So my booking was for Bombay-London-New York," he said at a book launch function on Thursday.
"At that time we were minnows. Before 1983, we have won only one match in a World Cup, against East Africa, which was a team, not heard of. So to be honest there was no hope to go beyond the group stage not to speak of thinking to lift the trophy," said the former dashing opener. Srikkanth said Kapil was somehow very serious and said his side can beat the mighty West Indies and his self-belief rubbed off to his team-mates.
"Somehow Kapil was very serious, he has that Punjabi trait of nagging insistence on others to do something. He said we had beaten the West Indies once (in the 1971 tour) so we can beat them in our first group match at Old Trafford (on June 9, 1983). He said 'Dil se khelo' we can do it," he narrated.
"All the players said Kapil has gone mad. West Indies have Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes as openers. After that they have Vivian Richards, Larry Gomes, Jeff Dujon and four fast bowlers I have never wanted to face. But Kapil insisted at the pre-match meeting that we can beat them. That probably instill us the self-belief and eventually we beat them in the group match and in the final," Srikkanth said.
"I can say that 1983 World Cup group match victory against the West Indies (on June 9) was the turning point in India's ODI history. And I say there will never be another Kapil in this country and for that matter in the world," he declared.
Srikkanth, who led India in a Test tour to Pakistan in 1989, said a captain has to think sometimes out of the box and stick to his decision once taken.
"There was that ODI in Kanpur against England when the visiting side scored 278 at 5.4 runs an over which was a stiff rate at that time. I promoted Chetan Sharma to number four to the dismay of manager Chandu Borde. Chetan can tonk balls from the start whereas Dilip Vengsarkar or a Mohinder Amarnath would have consume a few balls first before settling in and that could have risen the asking rate," he expalined.
"When I returned to the pavilion I was fired volleys by Borde why Chetan was promoted but I said sir I am the captain and I have taken the decision. Chetan won the match for us with an unbeaten century," he said.