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An evening of bonhomie

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THE HEROES: Syed Kirmani, Roger Binny, Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev held centrestage during the function in Bangalore on Tuesday.
THE HEROES: Syed Kirmani, Roger Binny, Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev held centrestage during the function in Bangalore on Tuesday.

Principal Correspondent

WC victory celebration plans unveiled

Niranjan Shah’s presence added a touch of official recognition

Gavaskar, the man behind the 25th anniversary celebrations, gave full credit to Kapil

Bangalore: It was an evening of back-slapping and bonhomie while Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, Syed Kirmani and Roger Binny held centrestage. The prelude to the month-long 25th anniversary celebrations of India’s epochal World Cup victory was unveiled here on Tuesday evening with the United Breweries Group pledging its support in reliving the high of June 1983. The presence of BCCI Secretary Niranjan Shah also added a touch of official recognition after the Board was seemingly caught in a bind as Kapil is associated with the rebel Indian Cricket League.

Greatest achievement

The Secretary reiterated the BCCI’s earlier announcement of feting the players at Delhi on June 22. “The World Cup victory in 1983 is the greatest achievement in Indian cricket and the Board will honour the players with mementoes and cheques,” said Shah.

And leading UB Group officials —Vijay Rekhi and Kalyan Ganguly — mentioned that the Group Chairman Vijay Mallya will host a dinner for the team in London on June 25, the day on which ‘Kapil’s Devils’ won the Cup in 1983. The officials also mentioned that a bat encrusted with precious jewels will be auctioned off on the eBay portal and the proceeds will be given to the team.

The evening though belonged to the cricketers. “We had defeated West Indies (at Berbice) three months before the tournament and that gave us confidence but to be honest all I thought was that we had a good chance of making it to the semifinals,” Kapil said.

Praise for Kapil

Gavaskar, the man behind the 25th anniversary celebrations, gave full credit to Kapil.

“The 175 he got against Zimbabwe helped us reach the semifinal and the catch he took off Viv Richards won us the final. That 175 is the finest innings I have seen in One Day Internationals. It was a team full of characters and everyone expressed their talent,” Gavaskar said.

Kapil meanwhile downplayed his exploits. “That catch was all about reflexes. In fact Madan (Lal) got Richards’s wicket and he keeps complaining ‘everyone only talks about that catch!’ and as for the 175 all I wanted was to ensure that the team had something to show after being 17 for five.

“(Mohinder) Amarnath and Kirti Azad bowled well against England in the semifinals, (Balwinder Singh) Sandhu got (Gordon) Greenidge out in the final…there were so many happy moments,” Kapil said.

Latecomer’s excuse

Kirmani’s bald pate also came in to focus.

“He used to come late for practice and would say, ‘you guys shave only here (cheeks) but I need to shave my head too and I need time’,” Kapil said.

Kirmani meanwhile recalled Malcolm Marshall’s apology after striking Sandhu on the helmet.

“Sandhu immediately said ‘you thought my brains were up there, they are here’ and pointed to his feet,” Kirmani said, while Binny spoke about the team’s camaraderie.

The evening concluded with Kapil reminding everyone that two years from now, it will be time to celebrate the 25th anniversary of India’s World Championship triumph under Gavaskar’s captaincy in Australia.

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