India win the Benson and Hedges World Championship of Cricket

BH Cup India.jpg

Melbourne, March 10, 1985

In the aftermath of a litany of losses, to West Indies, England and Australia, even the Indian public did not give them much of a chance. Those were days when the World Cup win had just about sunk in, and treated as a freak event. Indian fans were not yet accustomed to wins and did not yet demand World Championships as their justified birth-rights as they would do a couple of decades down the line.

But in that tournament, the Indian team clicked like a dream. The batting was a rare mix of dash and dependability, flair and finesse, ebullience and experience. The pacemen were magnificent and the spinners tied every team down on surprisingly helpful Australian tracks. Finally there was depth in each department.

The clinical efficiency was taken to its logical conclusion with an eight-wicket win over Pakistan in the final.

Sunil Gavaskar, in his last match as captain of India, proudly held the trophy aloft. However, his job was not done yet.

Ravi Shastri, presented with the Audi for his 'Champion of Champions' performance, did not yet have a driver’s license . Hence, the captain stepped up, and moved into the driver’s seat.

The team climbed in, some in front, some in the back, some on the roof and some on the boot. It was a celebration to remember.

The Indian players and public wanted this win for a very specific reason. It was underlined in a ‘Benson & Hedges World Championship Special’ crossword puzzle ... published in one of the major sports magazines of the country. The clue to 17 across read: “Two world championships mean that the first one was not a —— (5).” Yes, the answer was ‘Fluke’. The Indians had heard it repeated too loudly, too unkindly and too often that the 1983 World Cup had been a lucky bolt in the blue. They wanted their team to silence the doubters for good. Their heroes could not have done a better job.

Text: Arunabha Sengupta

Illustration: Maha