Ravi Shastri was the one who would take a step down the track and then defend calmly. He would build you up before gently tearing you down. Then there were the chapati or jhaadu shots he was known for. In fact, one look at the second half of his career would lead you to assume he may also be a very exciting batsman. Shastri Crowned ‘Champion Of Champions’.
But we forget that, before he became a subject of criticism, he was also known as the “Champion of Champions.”
The scenes will most likely be remembered as if they happened yesterday by those who observed them. Final of the 1985 Cricket World Championship. India vs Pakistan. Driving about in an Audi with Indian players arranged on top of it. The joy. The madness.
It was proof that the historic victory at Lord’s in 1983 was no fluke.
The event had not been especially high-scoring. Pakistan had the highest score of 262 against Australia in the fifth match. There was always something in the wicket for the bowlers, and many teams were bowled out for less than 200 runs.
Despite these conditions, Shastri provided tremendous service to India. While Kris Srikkanth was the tournament’s leading run-scorer with 238 runs at 59.50, it was Shastri who dropped anchor and ensured that India found a way to win matches.
In the first two games, he scored 2 and 13, then 51 off 94 balls against Australia and finally 63 not out off 148 balls in the final against Pakistan, while Srikkanth smashed his way to 67 off just 77 balls.
Shastri scored 182 runs at a 45.50 average in five matches. His strike rate of 49.32 was more in line with Test cricket, but this was Shastri realizing that the team needed him to do a certain task and completing it without allowing his ego to get in the way.
Shastri became only the second player in first-class cricket history, after Garry Sobers, to knock six sixes in a single over in 1985. He achieved it in less than two hours during a Ranji Trophy match in which he struck a double-century. So, he could score quickly if he wanted to, but the Mumbai khadoos cricketer did his thing – he needed to appear ugly to win the event, which he was fine with it.
“I was not in the Prudential Cup-winning Indian XI” – Shastri
Shastri was also a wicket-taker when he wasn’t playing cricket. His 8 wickets at a 20.75 average were also crucial. At this moment, his all-around skill was elevated.
About his performance in Australia, Shastri, on his return to India, said: “I was not in the Prudential Cup-winning Indian XI, so this is some compensation. The wicket (in the final) was a little dicey. The ball had a tendency to rear up dangerously after pitching, I was just careful.”
The highlights of the final seen below mostly show Srikkanth, but Shastri was working hard for the team on the opposite end… out of sight.
Shastri Crowned ‘Champion Of Champions’. Maybe that’s why he was adjudged the Champion of Champions.