Shades of B&H World Championship in India’s campaign

[ODDBALL THEORIES] Startling similarities connect India’s twin ODI triumphs of 1983 and 1985 with their performances in the 2011 World Cup and 2013 Champions Trophy.

They say India’s 1983 World Cup win was the greatest cricketing upset. Man to man, Kapil Dev’s ragtag bunch paled in comparison to Clive Lloyd’s West Indies. But that ragtag bunch had it in them to beat the Caribbean giants.

Before anybody could say ‘fluke’, India produced another momentous performance when they went to Australia in 1985 and won the Benson & Hedges World Championship of Cricket. It was the biggest ODI tournament outside the World Cup, and the first – and last – of its kind. It featured all the seven full members of the ICC at the time: Australia, England, India, Pakistan, New Zealand, West Indies and Sri Lanka.

Thirty years later, history seems to be repeating itself. India, the 2011 World Cup winners, are performing brilliantly in the Champions Trophy, which currently is the biggest ODI tournament outside the World Cup, and this is also the last time this tournament will be played.

India, having beaten South Africa, West Indies and Pakistan, need to win two more games to take the Trophy. In 1985 too, India had remained unbeaten throughout, winning five games out of five on their way to the World Championship win. 

There are other parallels to be drawn between 1985 and 2013.

The year before the B&H World Championship, the best Australian batsman of the era – Greg Chappell – retired. It happened again in the year before the 2013 Champions Trophy when Ricky Ponting retired from international cricket.

In both eras, Australia were beset by transitional difficulties. In 1984, Greg Chappell, Dennis Lillee and Rodney Marsh – three of their all-time greats – had retired en masse, and Australia were struggling to rebuild their team with young players. Currently, under Michael Clarke, they’re again troubled by the retirements of some of their finest players and trying to recreate the strong group of cricketers they once were. They had failed to qualify for the B&H World Championship semifinals. They failed again in the 2013 Champions Trophy.

Months before the B&H World Championship, England won a Test series in India by a 2-1 margin under the leadership of David Gower. It was a landmark win for the visitors. It took them another 28 years to win another Test series in India, and it happened months before the 2013 Champions Trophy when Alastair Cook’s boys won – again, by a 2-1 margin.

Both times, England took a 2-1 lead heading into the final Tests which ended in draws.

Bizarrely, both Gower and Cook are left-handed batsmen who were 27 years old at the time of their Indian triumphs.

Spooky? Read on.

Ravi Shastri started his international career batting in the lower order. But as his career progressed, he was promoted to the opener’s slot. He was moved up and down a great deal but he landed himself the opener’s job permanently for the B&H World Championship. India in 2013 have a somewhat similar story – of Rohit Sharma, who has been tried in the middle order but clicked only when he was promoted as the opener in a surprise move. But here’s the most intriguing coincidence here – both Shastri and Sharma are Mumbai cricketers.

But that isn’t even the best part of this string of bizarre parallels. Shastri won the man of the tournament award at the B&H World Championship. He was dubbed the ‘Champion of Champions’ for his consistent brilliance with bat and ball through the tournament.

In the 2013 Champions Trophy, there is one Indian cricketer who has made a big impact on India’s fortunes. He has scored vital runs in the game against South Africa, taken a tidy bag of wickets (with a fiver against the West Indies) and has also fielded brilliantly.
It was Ravi in 1985. In 2013, it’s Ravindra. Both these gents are left-arm spinners. They’ve been riled for not being as skilled as some of their superstar colleagues. But nobody would deny that they have made the best use of their limited abilities. And what they lack in skill, they make up in enthusiasm. What’s more both of them have a large social media fan-following – if you could call it that!

So what do these coincidences mean? Are they hinting at an India win? Who knows? Just sit back and enjoy the final moments of the last ever Champions Trophy.
Are there any other parallels you can draw between the B&H World Championship and the 2013 Champions Trophy? Share your views in the comments.