While the current Indian team continues to choke in knockout rounds of ICC tournaments, the Indian team of mid 1980s turned into one of the finest teams in one day cricket with wins in the World cup 1983 , Asia cup 1984 and the mini World cup 1985. And that was followed with another creditable victory in Rothmans cup in Sharjah in 1985. With the huge World cup win in 1983 ,we at times tended to forget the brilliant and emphatic mini World cup win in Australia in 1985 in which India , under Gavaskar’s captaincy won all their 5 games convincingly to win the trophy.
After losing to England 2-1 in home test series , India were rank outsiders as they began their campaign in mini World cup ,held to mark 150 years of Victorian state cricket. However right from their 1st league game vs Pakistan , the team gelled beautifully. In the 1st league game ,chasing a modest 189 plus target vs Pakistan , India were rocked early by Imran Khan’s pace with 3 wickets falling rapidly but Gavaskar(54no) and young Azharuddin (93no) on his first international tour batted sensibly to win the 1st game by 6 wickets . India beat England by 86 runs in 2nd game with the spinners Ravi Shastri and Shivramkrishnan taking 3 wickets apiece and keeper Sadanand Viswanath effecting 5 dismissals as England ,chasing 235 were shot out for 149. Hosts Australia were thrashed in final league game by India convincingly by 8 wickets after another Shastri-Siva show while Binny rattled the top order.
In the semis , A brilliant matchwinning 4th wicket stand between Kapil dev (54no) and Vengsarkar (63no) took India to a tense 7 wicket win after the Indian top order made heavy weather of a simple chase of 210 plus. Thus India reached the finals to face Pakistan who produced the upset of the event by reaching the finals after beating fancied West Indies in the semis by 7 wickets.
The D/N finals were played at the MCG on 10th March 1985 where India put Pakistan into bat and immediately Kapil Dev rattled the Pakistan top order which played poor shots to lose wickets rapidly .Mohsin Khan was caught at square leg off a flick, Muddasar slashed a wide ball to be caught behind and Qasim Umer got a searing yorker at pace from Kapil right into his blockhole to be clean bowled for a golden duck.Soon Rameez was dismissed by Chetan Sharma and Pakistan were tottering at 33/4 .
India’s nemesis Javed Miandad was settling down as Imran joined him . Soon after Imran tried to hook Chetan Sharma but got a glove and was clearly caught behind but the appeal was turned down much to India’s surprise and disappointment. Hence Imran (35) and Javed (48) got involved in a damage control stand but they never could dominate the Indian bowling as the spin twins controlled the run flow. Imran was finally runout and soon much to India’s relief Javed got stumped by Siva trying desperately to force the pace. The rest of the batting collapsed like a pack of cards and Pakistan finished at a below par 176/9 in 50 overs. Shastri and Siva were fantastic again but Kapil Dev (3/23) bowled a terrific opening spell to rattle the top order from which Pakistan never recovered.
India were careful in their chase and made sure that Imran did not make any early inroads. Once his opening spell was negotiated, the chase became easier with Srikkant (67) playing belligerent shots and hitting 2 sixes while Shastri (63no) held up one end playing the sheet anchors role. After Srikkant’s dismissal off Imran , Azhar (25) played a cameo .Later Vengsarkar(18no) ensured no further losses as India cruised past the target with 2 overs to go . Shastri and Vengsarker ensured a mammoth 8 wicket win with Shastri being declared the player of the tournament as he received an ultra modern model of Audi car after scoring 182 runs and taking 8 wickets in the event .
It was a tremendous victory by India. The scheduling of the event at the fag end of Australia’s season helped Indian spinners as the pitches had slowed down after the season long wear and tear. Sunil Gavaskar after this success relinquished India’s captaincy on a high as the Indian team of the 1980s proved that even during West Indies’s world dominance , they were a major force in one day cricket and were a leading team in multi team events.
10th March 1985 will always be remembered for India’s win of mini World cup in Australia.in 1985.