I am sure every one of us have had our moments-to-cherish in each of the different World Cups. My own World Cup connection began in right earnest during the 1983 World Cup campaign. Just in time for the commencement of the World Cup, a television appeared in our living room! This was a first for our household! It was a big moment for all of us at home — certainly for me, since I could stop being a pest with the neighbors; I no longer needed to ask them for permission to watch games and programs on their television and in their living room!
The World Cup final was when I had my first of many encounters with built up nervous energy. I remember pacing up and down and sweating it out like a nervous teenager on his first date, egging India to win. I doubt I will ever forget that moment when Kapil Dev took that brilliant catch — that was almost the defining moment for Indian cricket itself!
This then brings me to the topic! Here are my Indian moments at all the World Cups since 1983 (inclusive).
1983 Prudential World Cup
The final was certainly it. The six by Kris Srikkanth of Joel Garner was a big moment. At home, it felt as though we yelled so hard and loud, we felt we had broken the sound barrier! Until then, it seemed as though Garner was this unpenetrable bowler. Kapil Dev’s catch to dismiss Viv Richards and the final wicket of Michael Holding made up some of the brightest moments for me as far as I can remember. The semi-finals did have its moments too — with Sandeep Patil taking on Bob Willis and Yashpal Sharma making a fine half century. In the lead up game, India beat Zimbabwe after being 17 for 5 at one stage. This was thanks to a terrific 175 from Kapil Dev! Unfortunately, there is no video footage of this match!
1987 World Cup
This world cup should have been India’s but for some bad mistakes by India in the semi-final game. The best moment for me in the tournament was the amazing century partnership between Sunil Gavaskar and Kris Srikkanth in the game against New Zealand at Nagpur. The sweep shot off Martin Snedden by Kris Srikkanth was etched into memory. Gavaskar rained sixes on the ground and scored his one and only hundred in ODIs — as though to prove a point! This match had John Wright opening for New Zealand. It also had a moment for trivia-buffs — Chetan Sharma took the first every hat-trick in a World Cup!
The first game against Australia in Chennai was quite the finish — there certainly were some deja vu moments for me that night with Maninder Singh being the last man out again against Australia in Chennai (remember the tied test!) with one run to tie… In the semi-final against England, the man with brooms — Graham Gooch — and poor shot selection by Kapil Dev were moments worth erasing from memory.
1992 World Cup
While it is generally believed that this was one campaign worth forgetting for India, I cannot speak much about it since I was in Godforsaken land then and did not have a chance to watch a single game. This World Cup was marred by poor team-selection (for India) and also poor rain-rules (this was pre-Duckworth-Lewis days). However, I do remember that India should have won the games against England and Australia early in the tournament and this may have made a big difference. It is also worth noting that when Tendulkar scored, India won those games.
1996 World Cup
While this saw the emergence of Sachin Tendulkar as the most dominant force in World Cups, the magical moments for me were all in the quarter-final game against Pakistan in Bangalore. This match saw a terrific platform-setup by Navjot Sidhu followed by fantastic knock by Ajay Jadeja that included an amazing six of Waqar Younis. The other big moment was when Venkatesh Prasad took Amir Sohail’s wicket — the Jadeja-six and the Prasad-wicket events are two moments are worth entry into any all-time-World-Cup-memory DVD collection. The tension and excitement in the game against Australia at the Wankhade Stadium could be felt even when we watched it on television..
So, you want to watch the Prasad-Sohail incident? Well, here we go…
1999 World Cup
The Ganguly-Dravid partnership at Taunton in the game against Sri Lanka was a particular highlight of this edition of the World Cup. In particular, it was a joy to see the way Ganguly handled Muthiah Muralitharan. Ganguly made 183 in that game. We also witnessed a superb century by Tendulkar on his return to the World Cup after travelling to India to attend the funeral of his father who passed away during that World Cup These were some of the brighter moments in an otherwise dark World Cup for India.
2003 World Cup
This will be remembered as the World Cup that we should have won, but did not! I still wonder what went wrong! This was the perfect campaign for India till the very end, when we came up against a rampaging Australia in the finals. India’s campaign in this World Cup was very similar to the 1985 Benson-and-Hedges World Championships. India played like a champion team throughout the 2003 World Cup tournament. There were so many special Indian moments, it is hard to pick one.
The demolition of Caddick and his ego by Tendulkar at Kingsmead was a special. So also the Sehwag-Tendulkar show against Shoaib Akthar in India’s game against Pakistan. Mohammed Kaif’s almost forgotten gutsy performance in the same game against Pakistan in the presence of a resurgent Waqar Younis (the cover drive that he played of Waqar Younis to kick off his innings was breathtaking!) was one for the special-DVD too. We also saw some superb piece of swing bowling by the pace trio of Zaheer Khan, Javagal Srinath and Ashish Nehra against Sri Lanka and New Zealand were also terrific. Nehra’s magic against England was a joy. Ganguly’s liking for the Kenyan attack was as good as it gets. My particularly special moment was Alec Stewart getting caught plumb in front by a peach of a delivery from Nehra. This itself was worth every penny of the 180-dollars I paid for the tournament telecast.
2007 World Cup
I am sure the 180-or-so-dollars that I will be paying this time around will be worth every penny too. In this context, I think I spoke too soon about ATN and its magnanimity. They are charging a fair bit for the telecast… But I will subscribe. Because of those special moments.