New Delhi, Nov 18: On these three dates - June 25, 1983; March 23, 2003; April 2, 2011, India competed in the final for the biggest trophy in ODI cricket, the World Cup, so far.
While we succeeded twice, and cut a sorry face in South Africa in 2003 against Ricky Ponting’s Australia, Sunday (November 19) will give the Men in Blue a chance for redemption when they take on the Aussies in their quest to glory that began with a six-wicket victory over the same side on October 8.
Also Read: ODI WC 2023: Rewinding Team India's 10 wins in a row.
Interestingly, enroute their title triumph in England in 1983, Kapil’s Devils began their campaign with a 34-run win over defending champions West Indies, before landing the trophy after defeating the same side by 43 runs on a memorable afternoon at the Lord’s on June 25.
Can history repeat itself at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Sunday?
There is something special about India’s journey in the World Cup this time. Their domination with the bat, and pin-point accuracy with the ball have been remarkable.
Led from the front by skipper Rohit Sharma, India stormed into the final after knocking out New Zealand by 70 runs in the semifinal, their first win over the Kiwis in a knockout match at an ICC event, and the 10th victory on the trot in this edition of the World Cup.
Looking back: Summer of ‘83
The West Indies, Australia, hosts England, Pakistan and New Zealand were among the top eight teams competing in the Prudential Cup, as the marquee event was known then, along with India, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.
India began their campaign by defeating two-time defending champions West Indies against all odds, setting the tone for a remarkable journey.
However, in the first of the return fixtures, the West Indies beat India by 66 runs. Then came arguably the match of the tournament against Zimbabwe at Tunbridge Wells on June 18.
Walking into the middle with the team reeling at 9/4, Kapil Dev went on to score an unbeaten 175 out of India's total of 266/8, which Zimbabwe narrowly failed to chase down, losing by 31 runs.
Wisden described the tie as "a remarkable match which contained one of the most spectacular innings played in this form of cricket".
The crucial win ensured India’s place in the semifinal, finishing second behind the West Indies in Group B.
India took on England at Old Trafford in the semis and managed to restrict the hosts to 213. Mohinder Amarnath's all-round performance (2/27 and 46) played a crucial role as India cruised to a 6-wicket win to seal their place in the final.
The pinnacle of India’s journey came on June 25, when they faced the West Indies once again, this time in the final at Lord’s.
The West Indies, known for their intimidating pace attack and formidable batting line-up, were considered the favourites to lift the cup for the third time in a row.
Put into bat, India got off to a poor start with Sunil Gavaskar falling to Andy Roberts for 2. A brief partnership between Krishnamachari Srikkanth and Amarnath took the team past the 50-run mark, before India lost some quick wickets with Yashpal Sharma, Kapil and Kirti Azad failing to impress as India slumped to 111/6.
However, some useful contributions by Sandeep Patil and Madan Lal helped India post 183, though the target looked too small for the formidable Windies line-up.
The West Indies lost an early wicket when Balwinder Sandhu famously castled Gordon Greenidge. After a brief partnership, Madal Lal dismissed Desmond Haynes and Vivian Richards, the latter famously caught by Kapil at deep-midwicket to leave the reigning champions at 57/3.
From then on, the Windies kept losing wickets at regular intervals, before Amarnath cleaned up the tail to script India’s most memorable win in the short format.
2011: At home in Wankhede
After the title triumph in 1983, India somehow failed to click when it mattered in the subsequent editions of the Word Cup.
A semifinal loss at home to England in 1987, the disastrous outing against Sri Lanka at the same stage in Kolkata nine years later, and the heartbreak in the final against Australia in Johannesburg left fans wondering when the tide will turn.
Well, it did, and that too in some style, when India jointly hosted the World Cup along with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in 2011.
India qualified for the quarterfinal after finishing second in Group A behind South Africa.
Inspired by half-centuries by Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh, M.S. Dhoni’s team made short work of three-time defending champions Australia in the quarters, winning by six wickets in Ahmedabad.
In the much-anticipated semifinal against arch-rivals Pakistan at Mohali, a match that had then Prime Ministers of both countries – Manmohan Singh and Yusuf Raza Gilani – in the stands, India rode on Sachin Tendulkar’s 85 to script a 29-run victory and set up a final date with Sri Lanka.
On a sunny afternoon at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on April 2, Kumara Sangakkara opted to bat after winning the toss.
After a slow start, Sangakkara added 62 runs with Mahela Jayawardene before getting out for 48. But despite losing wickets at regular intervals, Jayawardene slammed a quickfire 103 to help Sri Lanka post a challenging 274.
In reply, India got off to the worst possible start in a cup final, with Virender Sehwag falling to Lasith Malinga off the second ball of the innings before Tendulkar edged the same bowler behind the stumps to leave India at 31/2 in the seventh over.
However, Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli added 83 runs to steady the ship, before the latter was dismissed in the 22nd over.
Promoting himself up the order, a move that would be considered as a masterstroke later, Dhoni joined Gambhir in the middle, and nipped Lankan hopes in the bud with a match-winning 109-run stand.
After Gambhir got out for 97, Dhoni (91*) and Yuvraj Singh (21*) took India home with the former bringing up the victory in style, launching Nuwan Kulasekara into the stands over long-on.
No doubt, the stands at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad will be filled with anticipation for a similar finish on Sunday.