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Blue delight, Blue dominance

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Last updated on 10 Mar 2023 | 02:55 AM
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Blue delight, Blue dominance

On this day 38 years ago, the Men in Blue added to their trophy collection as they steamrolled Pakistan in the final of the World Championship

Most cricket pundits perceived the India cricket team's 1983 World Cup winning feat as a fluke that wouldn't repeat itself. And this was precisely why the Men in Blue’s 1985 World Championship of Cricket victory in Australia was essential - they achieved the feat on this day 38 years back.

Interestingly, Team India’s most domineering run in a cricket tournament is the least talked about by fans and pundits. When the One Day International (ODI) tournament was announced to be held from February 17 to March 10, 1985, bookmakers had West Indies as the favourites despite Kapil Dev’s men being the reigning World Cup holders. But the Men in Maroon were comprehensively beaten in the semi-finals by Pakistan.

The Benson & Hedges World Championship of Cricket in 1985 is fondly remembered for the iconic shades of jerseys used by all the competing nations. The tournament had seven Test playing nations - Australia, India, Pakistan, West Indies, England, South Africa and New Zealand - swapping their dull cricketing whites to don the colourful jerseys for the first time in cricket history.

The Indian team wore a light blue jersey with yellow colour parting from the middle until halfway and around the collars. The kits had no sponsors, logos or even the players' names,  but remained one of the most iconic Indian cricket jerseys for the flawless individual performances in this tournament.

With the competition being held in Australia, sides from the subcontinent - India and Pakistan - hardly stood a chance. However, India would effortlessly defeat Australia, England and New Zealand to reach the final. India’s arch-rival, Pakistan, had also made a solid comeback after losing their first match against India at the MCG.

Despite India winning the 83 World Cup under Kapil Dev’s distinctive captaincy, Sunil Gavaskar led India in this tournament. However, that didn’t discourage Kapil Dev’s bowling. He had maintained a striking economy rate of just 2.97 throughout the tournament, which helped India massively.

Kapil Dev was a thorn for Pakistan the entire final, with openers Mohsin Khan and Mudassar Nazar getting visibly troubled by his swing bowling before eventually falling to him within 30 runs. Kapil had help from Chetan Sharma and Laxman Sivaramakrishnan from the other end, who were also unplayable by most Pakistan batsmen.

Pakistan’s only performers that evening were captain Javed Miandad and Imran Khan, whose 68-run stand in the middle had helped the side cross the 100-run threshold after a shaky start. Pakistan would end up summing up just 176 runs in 50 overs, a target that was a cakewalk for an in-from Indian team.

 Imran Khan and company would have desired some early wickets to keep the final match competitive, but an explosive start by Krishnamachari Srikkanth and Ravi Shastri removed every shred of uncertainty regarding the outcome. The duo forged a 103-run stand before Mohammad Azharuddin and Dilip Vengsarkar finished the match with almost three overs to spare.

Team India had not only won the competition but dominated the individual laurels as well. Opener Kris Srikkanth had ended as the highest run-scorer by racking up 238 runs in 5 matches at a strike rate of 79.59. His knocks of 57 against England at the SCG, 93 against hosts Australia at the MCG and 67 against Pakistan in the final were celebrated by one and all.

However, the man of the hour was Ravi Shastri, who was named the Player of the Series with 182 runs and eight wickets to his name in five matches. He was gifted an Audi car, the image of which is still fresh in the memories of every Indian. Debutant Laxman Sivaramakrishnan had ended as the highest wicket-taker in the championship with 10 wickets. India came home with £22,500 as prize money. 

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