With so many low and high points in its entity, India became the first side to play 1000 ODI matches. They celebrated this milestone by breezing past West Indies at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmadabad on February 6.
In this journey of ebbs and flows which started way back in 1974, let’s inspect top six iconic moments of Indian cricket.
1983 World Cup Final: Wizardry at Lord’s Motivated Indian Cricket
India reached England planning their World Cup campaign as a holiday trip. But when they defeated the world champions, West Indies, to kick off the WC, they grabbed a huge reserve of belief. They subsequently lost to Australia and in a virtual knockout, they tasted victory against Zimbabwe due to Kapil Dev’s monumental 175*.
India beat England in the semis and found themselves in the Final against the Caribbean side. Hammering the West Indies twice in a tournament would be like climbing the Everest twice.
Kapil Dev’s troops folded up for a paltry 183 before finding the opponents on 50-1; hardly anyone gave them a chance from hereon. Out of nowhere, the swashbuckling Viv Richards top-edged a delivery bowled by Madan Lal and every player seemed to be running for the ball. Finally, the skipper extending his long arms covering many yards captured the catch or perhaps the trophy. Few hours later, the final nail in the coffin was put as Mohinder Amarnath seized the limelight with three wickets. The irrepressible all-rounder was named the Player of the Final in a game which revolutionised Indian cricket.
The Indian flag kept on flying high as thousands of dreams grasped new life.
1985 World Championship of Cricket Final, Melbourne: Stabilising India’s position at the Global Stage
The ODI garland at the 1985 WCC was essential in figuring out that the 1983 WC triumph wasn’t a “once in a blue moon performance”. The captaincy hat had been passed to Sunil Gavaskar in 1984. The ruling world champions, India, earned pleasant success in the group stage against Pakistan, England and Australia before getting the better of New Zealand in the semi-final to set up a title clash against their arch-rivals across the border.
Kapil Dev laid the perfect platform reducing Pakistan to 33/4 before their captain Javed Miandad and Imran Khan stepped on the gas to stitch a recovery with a 68-run partnership. In came Laxman Sivaramakrishnan and reduced Pakistan to 176/9 in their allotted 50 overs.
Shouldering on a century opening partnership between Kris Srikkanth, the Player of the Final, and Ravi Shastri, the Player of the Tournament, India conquered the chase by eight wickets. It wasn’t only a classic India-Pakistan event but a victory that cemented the former as a consistent bunch on the global stage.
2002 NatWest Trophy Final: When “bus driver” Mohammad Kaif made India proud at Lord’s again
From 1999 to 2001, with nine successive final losses against both high-ranked and unexpectedly lower-ranked sides, slowly but steadily India were being branded with the chokers tag. And they again reached Lord’s for the 2002 NatWest Trophy final.
Chasing 326, India were limping at 146 for 5 after 24 overs with all the giants of the side back to the pavilion; even the spectators with zero hopes had started to leave the ground. Two youngsters, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif, of whom the latter was welcomed as a “bus drivers” by England captain Nasser Hussain to the middle, repaired the chase for India with a 121-run partnership.
At the end of the six-hour show, Kaif held his nerve to take India over the line in what was the second-highest successful chase in ODIs at the time. The shirt waving in the Lord’s balcony by India captain Sourav Ganguly clarified how vital that trophy was for the blue brigade to lift their confidence and self-belief.
2008 Commonwealth Bank Series Finals: The right preparation and result with one eye on 2011 World Cup
A full 23 years had passed and India were yet to taste victory in a final in Australia since the World Championship Cricket 1985 final. In 2008, they were up against the Australian side, three-time defending ODI World Champions. On the other hand, the Indian team was looking for some changes in their outfit with new legs being introduced under a young captain.
Even with new energy, it was the same old man for India, Sachin Tendulkar, who notched up his maiden ODI century in Australia, helping India to complete their 240-run chase in Sydney against the home side in the first final. A young Rohit Sharma too contributed with 66.
The God of Cricket almost bagged another hundred in the second final in Brisbane as India defended 258 runs thanks to the 4-wicket haul from Praveen Kumar to win the CB Series 2008.
2011 World Cup Final: A Six to end the 28-year-old drought
Since the mad rush after sealing the 1983 World Cup, India had slipped on many occasions in the mega event. The royal trophy reached India in 2011 with so much expectation and media hype.
No team until then had won a world title on home soil and India’s journey was hard. They lost to South Africa and tied with England even after scoring 338 in the league phase. After a mouth-watering quarter-final against Australia, the Indian side punched arch-rivals Pakistan in the semis to reach the final.
After a double toss, Sri Lanka posted a challenging 274 thanks to the unbeaten 103 from mighty Mahela Jayawardene and late aggression from the lower-order. When Sachin Tendulkar, who was playing his last World Cup, was dismissed, the whole Wankhede sensed a pin-drop silence.
But Gautam Gambhir kept things under control, first with a partnership of 83 with Virat Kohli and then of 109 with skipper MS Dhoni. When the left-hander got run-out for 97, the dirt on his shirt smelled something special.
Captain Dhoni had promoted himself to tackle Muttiah Muralitharan and finished off in style. Tendulkar finally found his hands on the World Cup while a side ultimately won the trophy on home soil.
2013 Champions Trophy: The Smoothest Transition of Indian Cricket amidst Dark Times
Probably, when India left for England for the 2013 Champions Trophy, more than their campaign, the nation was darkened with the Indian Premier League (IPL) spot-fixing saga as the media was busy in raising questions on players’ honesty.
The dark clouds seemed to leave when the young bunch advanced to the Finals to meet England after demolishing the most dangerous South Africa, arch-rivals Pakistan and West Indies before defeating Sri Lanka in the semi-final.
The English sky in late June kicked off its normal service as the heavens opened up to shorten the game to just 20 overs. England, who were up against a 38-year drought of an ICC Trophy, pushed India to the corners reducing them to 66/5 in the 13th over. But a small electrifying partnership of 47 runs between Ravindra Jadeja and Virat Kohli took India to 129/7 in the end.
Even after few bumpers in their road of chasing the low score, the Alastair Cook-led side, riding on a 64-run partnership between Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara, required just 20 runs in the final three overs. But Ishant Sharma, after a foul day with the ball, came back to deliver with two wickets on consecutive balls to steal the moment.
Later, James Tredwell failed to hit a six off the last ball as MS Dhoni jumped celebrating another ICC Trophy in his cabinet. India found their smoothest and most glorifying pavement for transformation to a new generation.
It was quite a task to pin-point only six moments from the huge list of India’s ODI journey with notable omissions being the 1998 Coca Cola Cup Final or 2012 Hobart ODI or 2011 World Cup quarter-final. But as followers of Indian cricket, one could expect to see the side grow in confidence and propel themselves to new highs in this format of the game.