West Indies skipper Clive Lloyd was poised to hold aloft the World Cup for a third time, only to see Kapil’s ‘Devils’ from India snatch it away in one of the biggest surprises.
The West Indies were favourites having won the event twice, while India were outsiders having won just one match - against a lowly East Africa in 1975 - in the previous two tournaments.
The 17-day event was bigger than the previous ones as there were 27 matches instead of 15, with each side playing against the other twice in the four-team group.
The tournament began on a sensational note, with India shocking the West Indies in a group match at Old Trafford and minnows Zimbabwe upsetting Australia on the strength of a superb all-round performance by Duncan Fletcher, who later coached England.
India had already posted a morale-boosting win over the West Indies at Berbice in Guyana before the tournament.
“The faith and self-belief in our approach had been born during those two victories (at Berbice and Old Trafford),” Dev said.
“To beat the West Indies in their own country especially was practically unheard of in those days. Yes, these two results were the key to our success.”
Australia were to face to the West Indies’ fury in the next match as they were dismissed for 151 chasing a 253-run target, with paceman Winston Davis taking 7-51 - then a Cup record.
The West Indies won their remaining four group matches before putting it across Pakistan in the semifinal.
India faced many anxious moments, losing to the West Indies in their second group encounter and then to Australia before finding themselves in a deep trouble against Zimbabwe.
They were 17-5 when Dev played a brilliant innings at Tunrbidge Wells, a blazing 175 not out off just 138 balls with the help of six sixes and 16 fours to help his team post a competitive 266-8.
Zimbabwe eventually lost the match by 31 runs, but won plenty of hearts with their gutsy batting.
India beat Australia in the last group match to set up a semifinal clash with England. They again proved their all-round ability to defeat the hosts by six wickets.
It looked a three-in-a-row for the West Indies when India managed only 183 in the final against a formidable pace attack of Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Michael Holding and Malcolm Marshall.
But Indian medium-pacers Madan Lal, Mohinder Amarnath, Balwinder Sandhu and Roger Binny were superbly marshalled by Dev.
If there were one catch that swung the final India’s way, it was Dev’s to account for Richards.
Richards had been dominating the Indian attack before he mishooked a Lal bouncer for Dev, who ran back towards mid-wicket to hold the ball and change the course of the match.
“Getting Richards out then was the key for us,” Kapil said, after the West Indies were all out for 140 to hand India a 43-run victory.
The days of favourites had gone as the West Indies never reached the final again. Cricket was never the same in India where players were accorded star status.
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