That Fateful ODI in Kashmir

This is the link of the match details and scorecard on ESPNCRICINFO.


Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium ,Srinagar hosted a One Day International match  on October 13th,1983 between the recently crowned  World Champions,India,led by Kapil Dev and and the mighty West Indies ,led by Clive Lloyd.

The Windies squad boasted of Viv Richards, Desmond Haynes, Gordon Greenidge, Michael Holding,Malcom Marshall,and Andy Roberts,while Indians had Kapil,Gavaskar,Vengsarkar,Shrikant,Sandeep Patil and Kirmani. This was a more star studded lineup that even an Avengers film might boast of.

The Kashmir situation was in a   fast deteriorating phase , and locals were getting increasingly radicalized .How sensible was it  to hold a ODI in Srinagar in such an atmosphere is anyone’s guess ?
On a pitch that was wet because of overnight condensation, the Windies won the toss and put India to bat.
From the moment Indian batsmen took guard  ,cricket became secondary and vituperative politics assumed centrestage . A very hostile crowd,spurred on by the Jamait-e-Islami thugs, started chanting anti-India slogans. Indians could not play freely on the damp pitch and kept losing regular wickets .The audience loudly cheered the fall of every Indian wicket, and booed them whenever every run or boundary was scored.

Slogans like Pakistan Zindabad (Long live Pakistan) and India Murdabad (Death to the Indians) shocked both the teams .Neither side had expected this kind of a response.  Indians  were all out on 176 runs in 41.2 overs. Shrikant  somehow crawled to team’s highest score of 40, while Harper claimed 3 wickets.
During lunch hour,a group of hooligans attacked the pitch and attempted  to dig it. But they could not inflict enough damage for the match to be abandoned . Soon enough,the  Windies began their chase.
Indian fielders faced choicest of abuses  from the crowd.Bottles,stones and invectives rained on the “home” team like hellfire . Every run scored by Windies was cheered  .Sunil Gavaskar,while fielding, was called taregtted with verbal missiles and shown a large-sized poster of Imran Khan. Sunny tried to indulge  the spectators for sometime but could not carry on the charade for long .

The then CM of J&K ,Farookh Abdullah was present throughout  the match,but never once did he try to control the situation. Post-match,he did apologise to the Indian team, but that counted for little when deep scars had already been inflicted . This says a lot about the character of a man who silently blessed  the wild,unruly behaviour of his electorate  in a stadium named after his own father.
West Indies eventually won this rain- curtailed game without losing even a single wicket .But more than the result ,what mattered  was the crowd behavior .Captain Kapil Dev considered pulling out the team  midway,but then decided to continue as it would have been very embarassing for the Indians . The ever diplomatic Sunil Gavaskar later  played  down the incident ,but the message from Srinagar  was loud and clear .

Those who blame the rigged Assembly elections of 1987  for insurgency conveniently turn a blind eye towards  such incidents. What did the Indira and Rajiv governments do between 1983-89 ? Did they try to reverse the slide ?

The genocide of Kashmiri Pandits which began in  January 1990 didn’t come as a surprise to anyone .The Indian state was not just a mute spectator ,rather was a tacit  contributor with their conspiracy of inaction.
Was this ODI then the end of road for international cricket in Kashmir ?
No,sir. Magnanimous India took one more chance. This time ,India hosted Australia for a ODI in 1986.

By then the situation had worsened a lot,and infact had  gone out of control. Players were fortunate that  terrorism had yet not been institutionalised ,else their safety would have been at stake . Crowd behavior was abominable, and India lost the match. But  Srinagar lost not just cricket, but even remnants of peace after that.
The Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium was occupied by the CRPF for 18 long years,and Kashmir got  drowned in flood of insurgency. India has gradually developed Dharmasala as a cricket venue.Holding an international match in Srinagar is not even a distant dream anymore. Most international teams do not send their teams to Pakistan.Jihad and cricket cannot go together.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Rohit says:

    Of course the leftists and self styled liberals would argue that separatism was instigated by Pak and kashmiris by nature are peace loving people. I for one believe Kashmir never accepted India as their country. The reason is simple: idea of being ruled by infidels is anathema. Everything else is bullshit. Kashmiriyat talk is a big lie.


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