Born on 6th of January 1959 in a humble timber merchants family on the outskirts of Chandigarh, coached by an (then) unknown Desh Prem Azad, a career spanning 17 years from 1978 to 1994 amassing in 131 tests 5248 runs with 8 centuries, highest of 163 and 434 wickets in tests; becoming the highest wicket taker in the world at that time, still the only cricketer in the world to complete the double of 5000+ runs and 400+ wickets- we are talking about none other than our very own Living Legend- Kapil Dev Nikhanj.
In the career spanning across 225 ODI’s, Kapil scored 3783 runs, and 253 wickets. But his most important innings – the one that really mattered was played on the 18th of June 1983 -the 175 run innings. It was and still is the most striking and outstanding innings in our memories. It was a hot sultry Saturday afternoon in Bombay. I was at work trying to wrap up all my work early, so that I could leisurely listen to India play Zimbabwe, at a small unheard-of country ground in England: The Nevill ground in the village of Tunbridge Wells.It was the 3rd edition of the cricket world cup. The Prudential World Cup 1983.
India’s record at the 1st and 2nd World Cups in 1975 and 1979 had been so dismal and pathetic, that we- the fans, BCCI and even the only possible broadcaster then, Doordharshan- had zero expectations from our team. Only the finals on the 25th June were scheduled to be shown live. But we were getting live, ball by ball, radio commentary. However, this Indian team surprised us. Lead by a newly appointed captain in Kapil Dev, they beat the might West Indies In their 1st round match, lost to Australia, beat Zimbabwe, lost to the West Indies In the 2nd round. And then won against Australia. And suddenly we were with a real chance to qualify if we won this 20th match of this World Cup against a lowly Zimbabwe.
A friend of mine, Giresh joined me, as full of pleasant anticipation, we tuned the radio on to BBC , expecting an easy victory.
India batted 1st. And started disastrously. In no time Gavaskar was out 0-1, Shrikant followed 6-2, as did Mohinder Amarnath 6-3. It only got worse as Sandeep Patil was out 9-4 and then Yashpal too left 17-5. By now the alarm bells were ringing. Disheartened, frustrated and angry, I chased Giresh out of my office, switched off the radio and resumed work.
And so, I missed out hearing live, the epic and iconic, 175 runs, Kapil Dev century. By the time Giresh called me to tell me India was past 200, and I switched the radio back on, Kapil Dev had gone on to hit a ton and catapulted himself into the annals of history. The legend of Kapil Dev was born on this day.That he marshaled his troops so well and India won the World Cup is now a part of historic lore. His words to his team mates- ” only 11 can play” have now gone down in history, as have his instructions to Balwinder Singh Sandhu to bowl only out swingers;luckily the Sardarji disregarded this and bowled Greenidge with an in swinger. The most abiding memory is his catching Richards off Madanlal in the finals.
Kapil’s 1st tour was to Pakistan in 1978 as a raw teenage pace bowler. He showed a lot of promise and went from strength to strength, cementing a permanent place in the team as an all-rounder. He has many matches for India, both with the ball and the bat. In 1991 he took a ‘fiver’ to beat Australia, in their den. His 9 for 81 in Ahmadabad, albeit in a losing cause against the West Indies was a lion-hearted effort. As was his hitting Embury for 4 consecutive 6er’s in England to save a follow on.
He also led India to a test series victory in 1986 in England.
The trip to Australia in 1993 was to be his swan song but he bowled his heart out there finishing as the leading wicket taker form both sides with 26 victims, going past 400 career wickets. It took him to within sight of Sir Richard Hadley’s world record of 431 test wickets. He retired immediately on making this record his own- 432 test wickets, having served his country for 16 long years and having played 132 tests and numerous ODI’s.
My admiration for this humble but great legend doubled when I witnessed his gesture of consoling Dilip Vengsarkar after he led Haryana to a narrow 2 run win against Mumbai in a Ranji final. A living Legend!
Hope you liked revisiting the memory lane of the Prudential World Cup 1983. Until then, stay tuned and keep reading www.shamsnwags.com
A special thanks to Hemant Sood for contributing his wonderful piece of article. In his own words, as he likes to be introduced- वेला बंदा is a retired businessman.But surely he is surely a busy man. An avid cricket fan, and an encyclopedia of Cricketing Knowledge, Hemant is a very welcome addition to Shamsnwags writing panel. Hemant has been following and living cricket since his childhood and has carried the passion to his second childhood uninterrupted.