When Kapil 'ruined' Srikkanth's honeymoon plans!

1983 World Cup winning captain Kapil Dev and his team-mates Kris Srikkanth, Roger Binny and Syed Kirmani (from left) at a press conference in Bengaluru on Tuesday. DH Photo Srikanta Sharma R

When Krishnamachari Srikkanth is on stage, few can be as animated as the former Indian captain. Just like his daring batting style, Srikkanth is known for speaking without inhibitions and regale the audience with his foolhardiness.

On Tuesday at a Britannia event to announce the company's association and activities for the upcoming ICC World Cup, Srikkanth had everyone in splits with funny recollections of the 1983 World Cup triumph.

Sharing the stage with then captain Kapil Dev and team-mates Roger Binny and Syed Kirmani, Srikkanth unsurprisingly chose to open the innings and came out all guns blazing, calling his skipper 'mad'.

"When Kapil told us we could beat the West Indies, we were all thinking what's wrong with this guy. We thought this guy has gone mad!," said Srikkanth, eliciting laughter from the great man himself. "For example, Varun (Berry, MD of Britannia Industries), when you set very high targets for your employees, they'll be saying 'this Varun has gone mad. Our CEO or MD doesn't know anything. We have to sweat it out in the open while Varun sits in an A/C room and sets such insane targets.'

"The West Indian line-up was scary to even look at. While the batsmen were dangerous, the bowlers were deadly who none of us wants to remember. But Kapil always believed we could do it. That's called captaincy and a true leader. He inspired all of us," added Srikkanth to a round of applause.

Srikkanth, though, blamed Kapil for ruining his 'honeymoon' plans after shepherding the Indians to a fairytale triumph. "I got married on March 30, 1983. I get a call from Sunny (Sunil Gavaskar) saying the World Cup team is selected. 'Hey Cheeka, I believe you got married', Sunny asked. So I replied 'Yes Sunny'. Sunny then says 'Congrats da, very good. Do you want to come to US.' I told him I would love to so he offered me the chance to get my wife along. 

"Sunny told me that he already has spoken to the cricket board and many guys had agreed to play friendly matches in the US after the World Cup. He asked me to book tickets to the US with a stopover in London just to play the World Cup. I was like, it's a brilliant idea, newly married, I just took my wife to Sri Lanka for a honeymoon and now I had the chance to take her to two more honeymoons -- England and the US.

"Prior to 1983, we got thrashed badly in the previous two World Cups. In both World Cups put together, we beat only East Africa. To me it was not a country, it was just Gujjus put together! So the plan was to enjoy the UK trip and then fly to the US. I swear on Lord Krishna that was the original plan. None of us thought we would qualify for the semifinals. Unfortunately, only one man spoilt that party and he is none other than the great Kapil Dev," said Srikkanth.

Kapil, patiently watching Srikkanth - who had grand plans of watching the final from the stands - for most of the afternoon, then let rip an outswinger from nowhere. "Srikkanth was indeed watching the final. Doesn't matter if it's from the dressing room or the stands."

Then it was another master of swing -- Binny -- to unsettle Srikanth's flow. "Having Srikanth as a room-mate is eventful. Your bags have been trampled upon. Cigarette butts are thrown into your bags, sometimes you find smoke coming out of them! He is always singing songs, especially Hindi although he didn't understand a word."

The banter between the quartet kept flowing throughout the afternoon. Srikanth mocked Kapil for not knowing English, Kapil laughed at Srikanth's Hindi and Binny recalled how Kirti Azad ended up falling into a swimming pool and almost drowned. It was an afternoon of nostalgia and entertainment.

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