Ever since I watched the 1983 World Cup final on TV, each final of the subsequent World Cups never fails to pull me back to that evening when India made history. There were hardly a few who could afford the TV then. Only in B&W. Cumbersome, high antennae had to be erected to catch the feeble signals from the Bangalore DD Kendra. Not all matches were telecast like today. It had telecast the semi-final in which India beat England and the World-cup bug had bitten many. I had watched the semi-final in bits and pieces on my friend Keerthi’s TV, not at his home, but at his friend’s house. His friend's TV had broken down. So we took Keerthi's TV there to Gokulam, an area in Mysore that was in the range where signals were reaching in good quality from the Bangalore Kendra. This circus could not be repeated for the 'final' for some reason and I was wondering where to watch. It was a ‘final’ that HAD to be watched, no matter where. India was to meet the mighty West Indies.
Come June 25, I met Girish Nikam, my teammate. We were to meet that evening to go ‘somewhere’ to watch. He was as determined as I. I went to his house on my bicycle, as planned. The match had begun and India was batting first. We were listening to commentary from BBC on his old vacuum-tube-Bush radio. After some time, he discovered that there was a friend close by who possessed a 'telly' hoping to fill our belly with cricket. I left my bicycle in Girish’s house (where I was to take it back the next morning) and pillioned with him on his scooter to catch the action on far away Lord’s. But we were disappointed to see such an awful TV reception there. We felt contented even as the dots and scratches annoyed us to form very fuzzy pictures and it was quite a strain to the eyes. The radio commentary guided us to know who was doing what. Such was the quality.
Girish tried another source over the phone from there. By that time, West Indies were already two or three down, chasing India’s modest 183. Viv Richards was going great guns, but we heard on radio about Kapil Dev taking a beautiful catch to send back the danger man. While that brightened India’s hopes Girish’s call brightened ours – to watch better pictures. So we rushed to the new venue, which was Girish’s friend’s friend’s house, again somewhere in Gokulam.
Our joy knew no bounds when we saw such a clear picture! We witnessed wickets tumbling. In a short while, there were about 15 lucky strangers in front of the telly! The mighty Carribeans had incredibly perished like bunnies for 140. All of us thanked the residents and left, ecstatic, having enjoyed every moment of live action that we could. On our way back, people were shouting and celebrating on the streets. It was well past midnight when Girish dropped me home where I saw worried and anxious elders awaiting my arrival and wondering my whereabouts. In those not-too-many-telephone-days, I neither thought of informing them or cared for dinner either. Such was the thrill-intensity the match provided. It was an unforgettable adventure.
India's WC win was the reason Srinivasa Rao saw to begin a new chapter in our unique group. Masale Dose group! Read about it and more in this blog here: