Mohinder Amarnath – Protagonist of 1983 WC win : Mohinder ‘Jimmy’ Amarnath possessed immense talent and potential as a batsman and was also handy with the ball. In other words he was the ‘skipper’s delight’ in the Playing XI.
He contributed immensely with the bat and was also successful in providing break-throughs as and when the captain looked upon him.
Hailing from a cricketing family, father Lala Amarnath and sibling Surinder Amarnath, both notching up century on debut, cricket came naturally for Mohinder. Youngest brother Rajinder Amarnath was also a First Class cricketer.
Jimmy has been largely praised by the likes of Imran Khan, Sunil Gavaskar, David Boon, Vivian Richards for his dedication to the game.
In his cricketing career of almost two decades, Amarnath has represented the country in 69 Test matches (113 innings – unbeaten on 10 occasions) has accumulated 4,378 runs at an average of 42.50 with 138 runs as his individual best. He also has 11 centuries and 24 half-centuries to his credit.
Having bowled in 71 innings, he had picked up 32 wickets at an average of 55.68 and had an economy rate of 2.90, with 4/63 being his best performance in an innings and in a match.
In the ODI format, Amarnath featured in 85 games (75 innings – unbeaten 12 times) and has aggregated 1,924 runs at an average of 30.53 with an unbeaten 102* runs as his personal best. He has a couple of centuries and 13 half-centuries and has picked up 46 wickets with 3/12 being his personal best.
Being classified as ‘minnows’ in that era of cricket, India’s performance in the initial two World Cup tournaments have been pretty dismal.
In the inaugural edition in 1975, India lost two games out of the three played in the round robin league stage. They won a game against East Africa.
In 1979 edition India lost all three games – against West Indies, New Zealand and Sri Lanka.
However, the 1983 edition had a different story to narrate.
India, under the captaincy of young Kapil Dev, won 4 out of the 6 games in the league stage and moved into the knock-out round.
In the first semi-final played against England, they got better of the opposition, beating them by 6 wickets.
The final encounter between India and the then defending champions, West Indies, was expected to be one-sided with West Indies having a cake-walk.
However, the reality turned out to be completely different and a vibrant Indian team, who had nothing to lose but a lot to gain, defeated the mighty West Indies by 43 runs and lifted the World Cup for the first time.
The cricketing fraternity sat up and took note of India’s emergence as a powerful cricketing nation.
With scores of 21, 44, 2, 80, 5, 13 in the league stage and a score of 46 and 26 in the semi final and final respectvely, Mohinder had a tally of 237 runs from 8 games at an average of 29.62 with 80 as his individual best. This he had scored against West Indies but it came on a losing cause.
He also picked up 8 wickets, bowling in 6 games, with 3/12 as his best performance.
Jimmy played a stellar role both in the semi final and the final encounters.
In the semi-final game against England, chasing a target of 214 runs in 60 overs, India lost both the openers Gavaskar (25) and Srikkanth (19) with just 50 runs on the board.
Amarnath alongwith Yashpal Sharma (61) added a valuable 72 runs for the third wicket. He scored 46 runs off 92 balls before being unfortunately ‘run-out’.
Yashpal Sharma (61) and Sandeep Patil (51*) ensured that India reach the target with 32 balls to spare.
Mohinder was responsible for dismissing David Gower (17) and Mike Gatting (18) very cheaply. In the process he gave away 27 runs in his quota of 12 overs.
Amarnath was adjudged the Player of the Match for his all round performance.
The final game against West Indies also saw Mohinder play a very crucial role.
Having contributed 26 runs with 3 fours in a small total of 183 runs, he had a huge responsibility of keeping the likes of Desmond Haynes, Gordon Greenidge, Vivian Richards, Clive Lloyd under check.
With Balwinder Sandhu and Madan Lal, taking wickets regularly and restricting the opposition to 76 runs for the loss of 6 wickets, Mohinder Amarnath rolled over his arms and accounted for Jeffry Dujon (25), Malcolm Marshall (18) and Michael Holding (6) within a span of 64 runs and helped India with the game and the tournament title.
For his contribution with the bat (26) and for claiming 3 wickets, giving away just 12 runs off 7 overs, Mohinder Amarnath was once again adjudged the Player of the Match.
With his all-round performance both in the semi final and the final, Mohinder has been instrumental in India winning the World Cup in 1983.
Amarnath, like any other cricketer was superstitious. He used to sport a red colour hand-kerchief in his pocket.
Jimmy would be celebrating his 67th birthday on 24th September.