On this day in 1985, India won the World Championship of Cricket remaining unbeaten throughout the tournament. One of the heroes of that win, leg-spinner Laxman Sivaramakrishnan went down memory lane with www.indianexpress.com. Siva also drew parallels between India’s win then and the ongoing campaign in the 2015 World Cup.
It is 30 years since the World Championship win today, what do you remember most now about that triumph?
It was probably the best tour of my life and the best tournament that we played. Nobody gave us a chance when we went to Australia in 1985. Before that we had lost to England in Test and ODI series in India. But it was a different team that went to Australia. I was going on my first ODI tour and my first tour to Australia. There was Sadanand Vishwanath and a lot of youngsters in the line-up. I was actually surprised that I was selected for the tournament. Mainly because I think they picked me because of the big boundaries in Australia. Sunil Gavaskar the captain got me a spot in the team. And it was a great tour to be on. We went there worked really hard and we managed to pull off some great victories there and be the world champions in 1985.
Was it the best Indian ODI side ever?
One of the best ODI teams ever. I think India had a really good side in 2011 World Cup. So I would say 1985 one of the better sides. It definitely ranks among top two or three best Indian teams. We had genuine all-rounders, a lot of all-rounders in the side. We had Kapil Dev, Ravi Shastri, Mohinder Amarnath, Madan Lal, Roger Binny. If you look at the number of all-rounders, you haven’t seen that after that in the Indian team. At one stage we had no all-rounder. I think in terms of composition those hugely talented all-rounders and the batting department had the likes of Gavaskar, Shastri, Srikkanth, Azharuddin, Vengsarkar, Mohinder Amarnath. I think we had a fabulous line-up, that was a fantastic team. The bowling line-up as well, the bowling line-up was so good, that apart from the final where we got nine wickets, the other four games we got every side all out. That talks about the overall ability of the side, strong in the batting department, strong in the bowling department and a lot of all-rounders, it was a brilliant fielding side too.
Where does the 1985 win rank in your view in India’s ODI history?
1983 was a turnaround for Indian cricket. That was the first major title that we won against a mighty West Indies team. That was the greatest moment for India. After that Indian cricket went really on a high, then the cricketers that played for India, believed that they could win tournaments overseas and 1985 World Championship just enhanced that. We showed that 1983 was not a fluke, we can do it all over again. The 1983 victory was the greatest and 1985 made sure that we could get a message across to the rest of the world that we can be dangerous in the format. The 1983 World Cup was played in whites and with red ball and it was a 60 over format. In 1985 World Championship we had white balls, one new ball from either end, with the field restrictions of just five outside the ring. We had different playing conditions, which we got used to and did really well.
Any anecdotes that you still remember from the win?
Just before the first game against Pakistan, Sunil Gavaskar took me and Shastri out for a meal. That’s when I knew I was going to play my first ODI the next day. He didn’t tell me that. He just asked me what kind of field do you want? What line, what lengths would you like to bowl. He then rebealed that I was going to play from match one. He was convinced and gave me the ball. I want you to pick up wickets. That’s how you bowl, go for wickets, don’t worry about the runs.
Did Sadanand Viswanath make all the difference in the win?
He was all charged up. Young blood coming into the side, Kirmani played in the ODIs in India, but Sadanand Viswanath got an opportunity in Australia. He was a livewire behind the stumps. Not only he told you how to bowl, where to bowl to different batsmen, what the pitch was doing. He was also a great source of encouragement for the bowlers and a bit of an irritant for the batsmen. Even somebody like a Javed Miandad got rattled by his words, trying to unsettle the batsmen. So he was a fabulous keeper with a lot of team spirit. I think Vishy made a lot of difference to the bowlers in terms of support and putting pressure on the batsmen.
Do you see any parallels in the 1985 campaign and the current World Cup campaign?
One parallel I can see is that they have won four games on the trot, I see a similar trend in the medium-pacers. Then Roger Binny and Kapil used to provide us the early breakthroughs. Then there was tight bowling by Mohinder Amarnath and Madan Lal in the middle overs. Shastri and I used to pick up wickets during the middle overs which meant that no partnerships were allowed to build up.
I see a current trend where Umesh Yadav and Shami have bowled really well with the new ball. And Ashwin and Jadeja have bowled very well in the middle overs picking up wickets. Things have turned around and the bowlers are doing a fabulous job. India is always known for their batting ability, but they have surprised everybody and happily surprised with the results that the bowlers are showing, I am hoping that they can continue the good work till the finals.