To tell you the truth, it doesn't feel that long. Everything is still fresh in my mind—the matches, wickets, returning to India.... In fact, I don't talk about it much but people always bring it up. Every time a World Cup is round the corner, we become the talk of the town.
The West Indies were unbeatable then. The first match they lost to us in Manchester was in fact their first loss in the World Cup ever since its inception in 1975. (It was called Prudential Cup then.) The win in the first game and the subsequent title triumph were so special because the double world champions had dominated the game all those years.
For me, personally, things were slightly different. I was not part of the Indian team that toured the West Indies prior to the World Cup. However, Karnataka won the 1982-83 Ranji Trophy and I was selected to the national team for the World Cup. It was a comeback of sorts for me. My aim was to establish myself in the team. It was my good fortune that the event was in England, where the conditions suited my bowling.
Pressure didn't really bother us once we played a few matches. To me, what mattered most was making a solid impression.
My most memorable match was definitely the first one against the West Indies. I took three wickets—Vivian Richards, Clive Lloyd and Jeff Dujon. I also contributed with the bat, scoring 27 runs, and had a good partnership of 73 runs with Yashpal Sharma for the sixth wicket. It was a very important game for me as a player looking to cement his place in the team. That performance gave me a lot of confidence for the rest of the tournament.
However, the game that really set me up was the one against Australia in Chelmsford, which we won by 118 runs. It was a crucial game and I took four wickets in my eight-over spell giving away just 29 runs.
Having said that, it was a team effort throughout the tournament. The conditions were ideal for both seam and swing bowling. You just had to have the right pace to move the ball. Balwinder Sandhu got us the early breakthroughs. Jimmy [Mohinder Amarnath] was extremely successful throughout the World Cup because he bowled the right length consistently. Madan Lal and I also contributed. All of us got wickets and that's what worked.
After doing so well in the group stages and reaching the final, we were confident against the Windies though they had beaten us at the Oval in the second group game. We had a prolonged lunch break and I remember Kapil's words—“Guys, we have come this far, let us give it a good shot.” Sandhu, once again, provided us with the breakthrough and after that wickets kept tumbling at regular intervals. I remember running and getting hold of one of the stumps after the last West Indies wicket fell. It has the signatures of all my heroes—Fred Trueman, Dicky Bird and my teammates!
I can never forget the moment we returned to the team hotel after winning the World Cup. Party was on and people were beating dhols. I had never done a bhangra in my life but I did so that night! Looking back it was very funny—Kris Srikkanth was jumping like a mad man to the beat of the dhols!
As told to Neeru Bhatia