As You Think So You Become
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Exclusive: Kapil Dev did not know how to take a backward step and his attitude boosted India: Roger Binny
Nearly four decades down the road, Binny's memories remain vivid about that glorious English summer. "Actually, we went into the tournament without harbouring any hopes. We just wanted to do well as our record in the past two World Cups (1975, 1979) was not so good. We wanted to change that. We were young team under a young captain and honestly that was the only thing in our mind. We wanted to enjoy the tournament, the thoughts of a title win were very far in our mind," Binny, who served Indian cricket in various capacities, told MyKhel.
Binny said he was particularly anxious ahead of the tournament as he was making a comeback into the side. "I really wanted to make a mark as I was making a comeback to national team after getting dropped for the previous tour to the West Indies. But a lot of jitters were subsided after our win over West Indies (India's first group stage match at Manchester)," said Binny.
Binny took three wickets and contributed a vital 27 down the order as India posted 262 for 8 in 60 overs and then restricted Windies to 228 for a 34-run win.
The first hint of challenge came from a rather unlikely source - Zimbabwe. India were reduced to 17 for five inside the first 10 overs and then Kapil played one of the most memorable innings of ODI history - an unbeaten 138-ball 175* that contained 16 fours and 6 sixes.
Binny had helped Kapil to ease the early blows taking India to 77 for five as he made a 22 off 48 balls. "It was a magnificent innings considering the circumstances as well. We were 5 down for 17 in no time. Usually, the lower-order batsmen like us will be sipping cup of coffee at the pavilion during that time. But here I was padding up and joining Kapil Dev in the middle. He told me: 'Let's take it over by over. We have more than 50 overs to bat from here.'
"Fortunately, we managed a 60-runs stand for the sixth wicket that comforted us a bit. Then the subsequent batsmen - Syed Kirmani, Madan Lal too had good partnerships with Kapil. Kapil and Kirmani added 126 runs for the final wicket and Kapil made nearly 100 of those runs. It was some batting exhibition," said Binny.
India managed to eke out a 31-run win over Zimbabwe at the Nevill Ground, Tunbridge Wells.
Binny said the run through the tournament and Kapil's reassuring presence helped the team calm the nerves. "Kapil was an aggressive captain who did not know how to take a backward step. He kept on telling us: 'we can do this, and let's do for the country.' He led from the front too and that match against Zimbabwe will tell you volumes of his ability to soak up pressure. We were also motivated and the win against West Indies in the group stage was a big boost for all of us," he said.
Once the final match arrived, Binny said, the team was settled into a fine groove. "Make no mistake! There was no over confidence within the team. We had beaten the West Indies in the group stage and had lost once. So, we knew we could compete against them. During those days a total around 240 could be a winning one and we wanted to score around that to put them under pressure," said Binny.
"But we did not bat well despite Srikkanth and (Mohinder) Amarnath doing a good job at the top order. We lost regular wickets thereafter and ended up at 183 and that was not a challenging total for a strong West Indies batting line-up. But our fightback started when (Balwinder) Sandhu bowled that huge inswinger to get rid of Gordon Greenidge and the early wicket gave us a lot of confidence.
But they still had Viv Richards and he really looked dangerous. But that running catch by Kapil Dev changed the whole complexion of the match. I don't think any other fielder would have reached near the ball. He was a very good, natural athlete. The dismissal of Richards put a lot of pressure on other batsmen and they could not play their natural game," said Binny.
Binny too chipped in with the important wicket of Windies captain Lloyd. "Bowling in the England is all about getting your length right. The English conditions are such that a bowler will always be in with a chance to get a wicket, and you need to find the correct length that will keep the batsmen guessing. I was concentrating on the correct length and the whole bowling unit did that and that made us a tough lot of face in England in that tournament," he said.
The all-rounder opined that the historical win changed the cricketing landscape in India. "I think so. Cricket was never the same after that win. A lot of young people took to cricket and being the world champions was a different feeling. That Indian team also achieved a lot of victories in the subsequent years," Binny signed off.
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