Cricket

One bad game did India in

K. Srikkanth

K. Srikkanth  

We had a strong team for the 1987 World Cup that was jointly hosted by India and Pakistan. In fact, we were the favourites.

That we failed to retain the Cup underlines how one bad game in the knock-out phase can undo all the earlier good work. The defeat against England in the semi-final in Mumbai was hard to stomach. England made 254 for six in its 50 overs. Graham Gooch came up with a fine innings of 115. The feature of his innings was the manner in which he swept the Indian spinners.

Still, it was a target we were confident of reaching. The spirit in the camp was high. We knew we had the batsmen who could get the job done. Sadly, it was a game where we did not apply ourselves.

We lost wickets at regular intervals, and the pressure built up gradually. England off-spinner Eddie Hemmings and paceman Neil Foster, steady at best, were among the wickets. And our dream ended at the Wankhede Stadium.

It was a tournament where India and Pakistan were billed to reach the final. Led by Imran Khan, Pakistan was a powerful team as well. But all credit to Australia for defeating Pakistan in Lahore. A lot of things can happen in a World Cup.

Resurgent team

The resurgent Australian team, captained capably by Allan Border, went on to win the final. England played the percentages well to make it to the summit clash but some tactical errors during the big moments of the match saw Australia emerge triumphant.

The Indian team was a well balanced one. There was balance in the side and skipper Kapil Dev had plenty of options, both in batting and bowling.

We did not begin too well, losing to Australia by one run in a thriller at Chepauk. The Australian total of 270 for six in 50 overs was a competitive one. But, we were off to a tremendous start. Sunil Gavaskar came up with a cameo and Navjot Sidhu and I were involved in what appeared to be a match-winning partnership.

Sidhu, making a comeback to the side, was playing the big shots in his new avatar. He used his feet, was severe on the spinners. I came up with an innings of 70 and I can still recall the roar of the Chepauk crowd each time I struck the ball. Sidhu made 73 and we were well on course. We were at a comfortable 207 when we lost our third wicket. Then things went wrong.

Wrong choice of shots allowed the Aussies to claw their way back into the match. The Aussies showed a lot of spirit and fight but I still find it hard to believe that we actually lost that match by the smallest possible margin.

India recovered from that setback and defeated Australia in the return league match in New Delhi. We were on a roll now.

We needed to defeat New Zealand by a big margin in our final league game in Nagpur to top the group and avoid travelling to Lahore, where we would have met Pakistan, for the semi-final.

I remember the match for plenty of reasons. Chetan Sharma achieved a hat-trick to rock the Kiwi line-up. Gavaskar was a doubtful starter for the match. He had fever on the morning of the game but decided to play. Gavaskar delighted by scoring his maiden ODI hundred. I watched plenty of stunning shots from the non-striker's end as Gavaskar cut loose.

Chasing a total of just over 220, Gavaskar and I had a cracking partnership before I was dismissed for 75. We romped home by nine wickets. Actually, we should have retained the Cup.

(S. Dinakar in conversation with K.Srikkanth)

Tomorrow: Javagal Srinath on 1992

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 1:42:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/One-bad-game-did-India-in/article15443118.ece

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