As part of its ‘The 80s’ series, National Geographic Channel will air an India special episode, looking at significant sporting moments of the decade

The Indian sports legends of the 1980s are going to make a comeback – on the National Geographic Channel (NGC), at 10 p.m. this Saturday. As part of a series ‘The 80s’, NGC is going to air the India special episode, which will include the great sporting moments of the decade – Indian cricket team’s maiden World Cup win in 1983 and the emergence of the legendary Sachin Tendulkar as the youngest Indian cricketer to play Test cricket, among others.

The one-hour special will also look back at key events and moments from the decade, across politics, economics, television and films that have had an impact on the India of today. While the story of the decade is strung together through a series of interviews with established journalists, cultural personalities, filmmakers and eminent researchers, unforgettable archival footage and photographs will give the audience a chance to revisit the most defining moments from that era.

The offering on sports will also include most iconic sporting moments, the birth of legends, emergence of alternate sports in India and dissecting a sport in its entirety through the decade. There is no doubt that Kapil’s Devils’ unexpected World Cup victory at the Lord’s, the Mecca of cricket, will dominate the sporting segment.

Remembering the World Cup final against the formidable West Indies team led by Clive Lloyd, former Test cricketer Kirti Azad says, “When we came back for lunch, Kapil was there and he said that it (183) may not be a winning score, but we can go down fighting, so let’s go out there and give it our best.”

“All of us played to our strengths, and there were no big individual scores or wickets that had been taken. The instincts of Kapil Dev really came through…West Indies was going great guns and Kapil running back, took that catch of Vivian Richards,” Azad remembers.

The World Cup win created awareness about sports, especially cricket, in India. Almost everyone was overwhelmed with the success. “My best memory of India in the 1980s is when we won the World Cup, I remember it distinctly. I was with M. J. Akbar, the great author and journalist, and we were watching and hearing the commentary. And, I remember the nail-biting finish. That was the same day Arth was released, so my success as a filmmaker and India winning the World Cup in cricket happened to coincide on the day. I remember how jubilant we were, we didn’t sleep that night and India had this kind of feeling of confidence radiating,” remembers filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt.

Analysing why the cricket revolution triggered by the 1983 feat stayed with the Indians, seasoned journalist Vinod Dua says, “For cricket you don’t need a ground, you can even play it in the gully…Cricket became everybody’s sport. You don’t even need wickets, just put a few stones. You don’t need a bat, just a piece of wood.”

Like crores of Indians, the World Cup triumph had also inspired a young boy named Sachin Tendulkar. All eyeballs were focused on the young talent as he made his debut in Test cricket as a 16-year-old in 1989. The master’s 24-year-old international journey, studded with 100 centuries, and his retirement this year has added relevance to NGC’s effort.

Thanks to the spread of television, sports as a whole got a major boost. The country’s eighth and last hockey gold medal in the 1980 Olympics, the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi and several other events caught the imagination of the common Indians. “I think one of my most significant memories of the decade was colour television. It felt like a whole new magical world had suddenly opened its doors to us,” says actor John Abraham.

NGC hopes the India episode will help people relive their past. “We received a great response to ‘The 80s’ series which covered a lot of what the world saw in the decade. Taking the thought forward, ‘The 80s India’ deep dives into what was shaking, shaping and rocking our country during the decade,” says NGC vice-president (marketing) Debarpita Banerjee.