Kirtivardhan Bhagwat Jha ‘Kirti’ Azad was a cricketing sensation during the 1980s. In domestic cricket, he led Delhi to two Ranji Trophy finals. However, he came into national limelight when he was a part of India’s first World Cup-winning team, back in 1983.
“That World Cup victory opened the doors for India to rock on the cricketing world. And that was the stepping stone for good times in Indian cricket,” recalls Azad. Amongst the top eight cricketplaying nations that participated in the 1983 World Cup — England, Australia, West Indies, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and India — the Indian team was placed the seventh just a step atop Zimbabwe.
“Just before the third world cup, our team had already gained confidence and form by winning both Test and ODI series during the West Indies tour under the efficient leadership of Ajit Wadekar and Kapil Dev,” Azad says.
He recalls the scorching day of 22 June, semi-final at Old Trafford against England, when the turf owing to the hot weather was behaving like the subcontinental pitches. “It was a very slow wicket, the bowl kept low and was spinning commendably. Under that condition, it was very difficult to play big or attacking shots, particularly against the spinners. However, Englishmen batted well,” says Azad. During the 1980s the English batting trio comprising David Gower, Allan Lamb and Mike Gatting was the deadliest combination England had in its arsenal.
“Kapil offered me to bowl. However, I had observed while Jimmy was bowling that his slow deliveries were restricting the English batsmen from playing massive shots. At that time, world’s best batsmen Alan Lamb and Mike Getting were playing. So, I also decided to bowl as slow as possible to keep the batsmen in reins,” reminisces Azad.
“In the middle of the England innings, our slow bowling not only restricted them from scoring easily, but also created frustration within the batting duo’s minds. At that very moment, Lamb ran himself out and England lost a very important wicket. Just after that great allrounder Ian Botham arrived.”
Suddenly, Botham tried an ambitious shot but my slow delivery deceived and bowled him. In the end, England bundled out for 213 runs in 60 overs. The talismanic 24 overs of Mohinder ‘Jimmy’ Amarnath and Kirti Azad dismissed 3 crucial batsmen while conceding just 55 runs. In response, Yashpal Sharma (61 from 115 balls, 3 fours, 2 sixes) and Sandeep Patil (51 from 32 balls, 8 fours) made half-centuries, as India chased their target in just 54.4 overs, winning the semi-final by 6 wickets.
Lords Cricket Ground, often called the Mecca of cricket, was the venue for the crucial battle between India and West Indies. This was the third consecutive World Cup final appearance for the defending champions West Indies. “We were confident; however batting first, we could only score only 183. Srikanth and Jimmy had played good knocks. Just before, the West Indies opening pair’s arrival on the ground to chase our partly total, Kapil paaji motivated the whole team and assured everyone that it’s a fighting total we can certainly restrict them.”
Having already amassed the confidence by winning two World Cups in a row, West Indies began the innings with usual dominance when their vice-captain Sir Vivian Richards played daunting strokes. However, he scooped Madan Lal’s bowl high in the sky sending it between the midwicket and square-leg. Kapil Dev, the Indian captain, on the spur of the moment darted to grab a daring catch. Richard’s departure was a turning point of the final; thereafter, wickets kept falling at regular intervals. Azad bowled an economical bowling spell of three overs conceding just 7 runs. India made history by beating the Caribbean side by 43 runs.
“At that time, we were getting 8-9 pound as match fees. Even the Lata Mangeshkar Night (Charity show) was organised by the BCCI in New Delhi to distribute cash prize worth Rs 1 Lakh to every member of the Indian team. That was the golden era for the all-round development in the Indian cricketing world. With this victory, India got the golden opportunity to host the World Cup in 1987. BCCI started getting huge sponsorships. ESPN started live telecasting the cricket matches. I feel proud to be a member of that great squad. We played for pride, not money. I can never forget that historical cricketing moment in my whole life,” concludes Azad.
The writer is the bureau chief of ‘Himalini’, a monthly magazine from Nepal. He has written two books on media education.
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Olympics: Deepika Kumari bows out after losing to top-seed An San
Star Indian archer Deepika Kumari bowed out of the ongoing Tokyo Olympics after losing to South Korea’s An San in the women’s individual quarter-finals here at Yumenoshima Park on Friday.
Top seed San defeated world number one Deepika in an absolutely dominating fashion 6-0 to march into the semi-finals of the individual event. 20-year-old San is aiming for her third gold medal at Tokyo after finishing top of the podium in the mixed team event and the women’s recurve team event. Korean An San had a brilliant start to the first round as she aimed at three 10s while Deepika shot 7-10-10. San carried that momentum in the second round and clinically shot 9-10-7 to which Indian responded with 10-7-7.
The dominance of the South Korean continued in the third set as she gathered 26 as opposed to 24 of Deepika. Match ended in less than six minutes. With this San will either face USA’s Mackenzie Brown or Mexico’s Alejandra Valencia in the last four.
Earlier in the day, Deepika defeated Russian Olympic Committee’s (ROC) Ksenia Perova to progress into the quarter-finals (6-5) in the 1/8 Eliminations round in the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
YUZVENDRA CHAHAL AND GOWTHAM TEST POSITIVE IN SRI LANKA
Three days after Krunal Pandya tested positive for COVID-19, it has come to light that spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and K. Gowtham have also tested positive for the virus in Sri Lanka.
Sources in the know of developments confirmed that the duo have tested positive for COVID-19. “Unfortunately, they have tested positive. They were close contacts of Krunal and were already away from the rest of the squad in the team hotel,” the source said. Krunal Pandya tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday and eight Indian players — Prithvi Shaw, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Deepak Chahar, Manish Pandey, Ishan Kishan, and K Gowtham were identified as close contacts.
Being close contacts of Krunal, they were staying away from the rest of the team and didn’t participate in the last two T20Is after Krunal’s test came positive.
Meanwhile, Wanindu Hasaranga’s four-wicket haul and Dhananjaya de Silva’s unbeaten 23-run knock helped Sri Lanka defeat India by seven wickets in the third and final T20I. With this win, Sri Lanka won the series 2-1.Sri Lanka won the T20I series while India had earlier won the ODI series.
TOKYO OLYMPICS: NUMBER ONE SEED DJOKOVIC BOWS OUT, LOSES TO ZVEREV
Number one seed Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic on Friday was knocked out of the men’s singles event in the ongoing Tokyo Olympics after losing the semi-final clash. Germany’s Alexander Zverev defeated Djokovic 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 in the men’s singles event.
As a result of this loss, Djokovic would not be able to achieve the Golden Slam (all four Grand Slams and Olympic gold) in the same year. Djokovic had brought out his A-game to the court in the first set, and he ended up winning it 6-1. However, disappointment followed for the Serbian as he lost two back-to-back sets and as a result, he bowed out of the tournament.
Djokovic had won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon this year and now he would look to win the US Open, beginning August this year. Earlier, top seeds Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka were also knocked out of the Olympics.
INDIA WOMEN’S HOCKEY TEAM BEAT IRELAND 1-0, KEEP QF HOPES ALIVE
The Indian women’s hockey team defeated Ireland 1-0 here at the Oi Hockey Stadium North Pitch on Friday. As a result, India’s hopes of making it to the quarter-finals of the women’s hockey event remain intact.
Earlier, the Rani Rampal-led side had suffered defeats in its first three group-stage games. The first quarter between India and Ireland saw no goals and after the end of the first 15 minutes, the scoreline remained 0-0.
A similar story was on the offer in the second quarter and at the halftime mark, the scoreline remained the same and it was Rani Rampal’s side that was feeling the pressure going into the third quarter. The third quarter also saw no goals, however, Navneet Kaur finally broke the deadlock in the fourth quarter and she gave India a lead with three minutes left to play. In the end, India managed to hang on to the advantage to score a 1-0 victory.
INDIA MEN’S HOCKEY TEAM FIRE ALL CYLINDERS, DEFEAT JAPAN 5-3
A resilient Indian hockey team came firing on all cylinders to thrash Japan 5-3 in the ongoing Tokyo Olympics on Friday. This was India’s fourth win of the ongoing quadrennial event. The Men In Blue will next be in action in the quarter-finals of the mega event. Japan might have scored three goals but the Indian boys made sure the Men in Blue were in the lead throughout the game and dominated proceedings.
Just two minutes before the end of the third quarter, India earned their second Penalty Corner only to miss the net. But the Indians were in the lead (3-2) with one quarter to go. Both teams got off to a cautious start but the Manpreet Singh-led side broke the shackles and netted the first goal in the 13th minute.
Gurjant Singh then scored early in the second quarter as India doubled the lead over Japan. However, Japan came back with a goal as Tanaka opened the team’s account.
In the third quarter, Kota Watanabe scored an equaliser but Shamsher Singh again put India on top as he scored a goal in the 34th minute. At the end of the third essay, India led 3-2 with a thrilling final quarter on cards. In the final quarter, Nilakanta Sharma doubled India’s lead after a desperate attempt from both sides to find the net.
TOKYO OLYMPICS: SINDHU DEFEATS YAMAGUCHI, GETS INTO SEMIS
India shuttler P.V. Sindhu stormed into the semi-finals of the women’s singles event after defeating Japan’s number four seed Akane Yamaguchi in the quarterfinals here at the Musashino Forest Plaza Court 1 on Friday. Sindhu defeated Yamaguchi 21-13, 22-20. The quarterfinal clash between Sindhu and Yamaguchi lasted for 56 minutes.
The first game was more close than the scoreline suggested and Sindhu had to bring out the best in her to win it 21-13. The scoreline in the first game might not indicate how closely it was fought, but Yamaguchi made her fight for every point. The star Indian shuttler was just one more game away from progressing to the semi-finals.
Yamaguchi made Sindhu toil hard in the second game, and for every point, the Indian shuttler had to be at her best. In the end, the number six seed Sindhu ended up winning the match in straight games.
In the second game of the quarter-final, there was a 54-shot rally between Sindhu and Yamaguchi and it lasted for one minute and two seconds. On Thursday, Sindhu had defeated Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt in the Round of 16 match of women’s individual event in the Tokyo Olympics here at the Musashino Forest Plaza Court 3. Sindhu defeated Blichfeldt 21-15, 21-13 in just 41 minutes to cruise into the quarter-finals.
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