Diwali, the festival of lights celebrated across India, is a time for joy, togetherness, and hope. For Indian cricket fans, it has also been an occasion for some stunning victories by the men in blue over the years. As the deafening firecrackers light up the skies, India’s cricket heroes have ignited passions on the field with sensational performances on Diwali match days, making it a happy Diwali indeed.
Let us look back at some of the memorable Diwali match victories notched up by Team India against formidable rivals.
Conquering the Mighty West Indies in Delhi, 1983
Casting our minds back to 1983, when India was still the underdog side not expected to win regularly against top teams. The West Indies side visiting India that October was a mighty force, with legends like Viv Richards, Gordon Greenidge, and Malcolm Marshall. Having already won the first Test in Kanpur, the Windies were favoruites to win the second Test in Delhi as well.
However, on the Diwali day of October 28, India pulled off a miraculous win after being follow-on thanks to gritty second innings efforts from Mohinder Amarnath and Roger Binny. The Windies collapsed while chasing a small target of 180, with Binny and Madan Lal doing the damage. This stunning comeback made Diwali doubly joyous for every Indian.
Outfoxing Defending Champions Australia in the 1987 World Cup
Four years later, the 1987 World Cup in the subcontinent proved to be a turning point for Indian cricket. In their important league match against defending champions Australia, India emerged victorious by a narrow 1 run margin. Australia needed 270 for victory, but a spirited performance led by skipper Kapil Dev, Chetan Sharma, and Maninder Singh restricted them to 269/8.
This nail-biting win on the Diwali day of October 27 gave India the momentum and self-belief, as they went on to win the semi-finals against England, and eventually lift the World Cup title by beating West Indies in the final.
Spoiling Jayasuriya’s Party in Sharjah, 1998
The 1998 Wills Trophy in Sharjah witnessed a cracking Diwali day contest between India and Sri Lanka. This ODI triangular tournament also featured New Zealand. Chasing 299, Sri Lanka were coasting along at 242/4 thanks to Sanath Jayasuriya’s blazing 130.
But once Jayasuriya fell, India staged a stunning comeback via Anil Kumble’s 4/87. Kumble received great support from Venkatesh Prasad and debutant Devang Gandhi. Sri Lanka collapsed in a heap, getting bowled out for 294 and losing by 5 runs. A thrilling Diwali night win for India that proved to be the launch pad for a tournament victory.
Dhoni Lights up Feroz Shah Kotla in 2015 against West Indies
When India met West Indies in a one-off ODI at Delhi in 2015, crowds were treated to vintage Dhoni fireworks on Diwali. India posted a massive 302/6 after centuries from Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan. In reply, West Indies faltered but Darren Sammy kept them in the hunt with a valiant knock.
Needing 13 off the last over, Sammy hit a six off Dhoni but couldn’t manage the required runs in the end. Dhoni kept his cool under pressure, effecting a brilliant run out off the last ball to snatch a nail-biting win on October 27. The Indian skipper made Diwali memorable for the Kotla crowd with his tactical nous.
9 Wins in a Row – Demolishing Netherlands in 2023 World Cup
At the 2023 ODI World Cup in India, Rohit Sharma’s men created history by notching up their ninth consecutive win against Netherlands on October 22. With this win, India surpassed the record for most back-to-back victories at a single World Cup edition.
Batting first, India posted a mammoth 348/3 powered by Rohit’s 123 and Virat’s 91. In response, the Dutch were never really in the chase and capitulated for 209. By defending 139 runs, India also recorded their biggest World Cup win in terms of runs. Yuzvendra Chahal was the pick of the bowlers with 3/22.
The Only Blot – Loss to Australia in 2007 World Cup
India’s otherwise flawless Diwali record was marred by just one loss, against Australia in 2007. In an important World Cup league match on October 28 in Vadodara, Australia piled up 281/4 after a Ricky Ponting century.
In response, India fell agonizingly short by 39 runs, finishing on 242/9 despite Sachin Tendulkar’s valiant 68. Zaheer Khan did take three wickets for India earlier on, but the other bowlers had an off day as the Kangaroos triumphed.
Nevertheless, over the decades, India has delighted fans with largely positive results on this festive occasion against top cricketing nations like West Indies, Australia, Sri Lanka and South Africa.
What Makes Team India a Potent Force on Diwali?
So what is it about Diwali that brings out the best in Team India on the cricket field? Perhaps it has to do with the festive cheer in the air and the charged up home crowds that provide extra motivation. The holiday atmosphere puts Indians in a buoyant mood, and some of this positive energy transmitted to the players too.
The sight of crackers, diyas and colorful Rangoli decorations signify hope, optimism and victory. This provides the perfect setting for India to aim for triumph on cricket grounds.
With holidays across offices and schools, there is heightened interest in these matches. Fans make time to either flock to the stadium or remain glued to their screens without worrying about work. Their non-stop cheering and energy gives Indian players an extra push.
Crowd support works its magic
Also, Diwali often coincides with India’s cricketing season between October to November when key international bilateral series or global tournaments are held. This year too the World Cup is taking place on home soil during the Diwali period, enabling fans to create an electrifying atmosphere in the stands.
The venue is invariably packed to capacity on Diwali match days. Hence, crowd support works its magic, taking India’s performance to even greater heights on their most awaited festival.
Diwali seems to infuse self-belief in the Indian side that they can overcome the toughest rivals on this auspicious day. Moreover, the donning of new, colorful cricket jerseys adds to the celebratory mood.
The stylish navy blue or orange Diwali kits make the Indian team stand out while sending positive vibes. Each player looks to make the day count by putting their best foot forward.
Bowlers find extra zip and batsmen take the attack to the opposition more aggressively. There is extra spring in the steps of fielders too for those vital stops, catches and run outs. Hence, on this festival of lights, India often manages to find that extra spark on the field.
Title Triumphs on Diwali Become Landmarks
Furthermore, India’s title victories in tournaments that coincide with Diwali, like in the 1983 and 1987 World Cups, are etched in public memory as landmarks. These triumphs ignite nationwide celebrations on such a significant festivals. Cricket dignitaries never forget India’s Diwali exploits.
For instance, India’s nail-biting 2005 ICC Champions Trophy final win over Sri Lanka came on the Diwali night of October 29. The team made the festival more memorable for every Indian fan by lifting the silverware on this day.
So the collective sentiment, positivity and enthusiasm of the nation on Diwali has regularly spurred the Indian team on to pull off inspired performances. It has turned into a good omen day for Indian cricket over the decades.