It was on June 25, 1983, when India lifted their first-ever cricket World Cup title, defeating West Indies in the finals by 43 runs at the Lord’s Cricket Ground. Indian cricket fans still get rushes of nostalgia while relieving that epic moment.
Kim Hughes opined before the World Cup that India is the “dark horse” of the tournament. It was an opinion even the optimistic of Indian cricket fans had no buyers. But as the championship unfolded, Kapil Dev s “dark horses” turned out to be Derby winners as they galloped in style past the finishing line.
A defeat would have meant the end of the road for India in the tournament, a well-synchronised team-game kept hopes alive, and the rest is history. Playing against a star-studded West Indies in the final, India managed 183 after batting first and it looked like West Indies would go on to win the World Cup for the third consecutive time. But what transpired next is now etched in every Indian cricket lover’s mind.
It was one of the greatest moment in India’s sporting history. But imagine for a moment, had India lost in that world cup. What would have happened? Would cricket remain what it is in India today without that big win?
Cricket wouldn’t have been the dominant sport in India
India’s World Cup win in 1983 paved the way for the sport to become as popular as a religion in the country. Following the win, youngsters started aspiring to achieve big and started there career in cricket. Also, academies started to spring up giving impetus to the sport. People also started to believe India can make the breakthrough as a good ODI team.
Hockey would have replaced cricket
Until the 1983 World Cup, hockey was the most popular sport in India from the very beginning. India were the undisputed champions in hockey winning eight gold medals at the Olympics between 1928 and 1980. However, post-1980, the standards of Indian hockey took a hit, while cricket thrived largely. It was only in 2016, after 26 years, the Indian hockey team qualified for the Olympics after their golden period ended in 1980. Had the Cricket World Cup was not lifted by India, more focus could have been given on hockey to make it standards rise.
Focus on other Olympics sports
The country which got immersed in the cricket fever post the 1983 World Cup win, would have also consider focussing their enthusiasm and support to other Olympic sports like shooting, wrestling, athletics, swimming among others. Athletes like PT Usha, Shiny Wilson were ruling the roost in Indian track and field circuit. Who know, a bit of more encouragement and holistic support could have gone miles to earn them medals at the Olympics.
India wouldn’t have hosted the 1987 World Cup
Without India’s success in the 1983 World Cup, it would have been highly unlikely that they would have hosted the 1987 Reliance World Cup. The first three editions of the competition were held in England and it was India’s success that changed the mindset of ICC’s administrators; they decided to make India the hosts for the next edition to accommodate the growing popularity of the game in the subcontinent. India and Pakistan were ultimately named the joint hosts for the tournament.
The legends of the next generation
1983 World Cup became the trigger point of many of the aspiring cricketers of the next generation. Imagine, if the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid or Anil Kumble didn’t feel inspired by the World Cup win, we wouldn’t have been able to see these legends and their successes on the ground in the coming days,