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World Cup flashbacks: When India used Kapil Dev as an opener in 1992

Kapil Dev

Bengaluru, April 27: In the 1992 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, India had a poor start as they lost to England by nine runs in Perth.

One of the major reasons for this defeat was India's slow scoring in the beginning. A half-fit Ravi Shastri took ages to score 57 (112 balls) and that put the middle order under immense pressure while chasing the target of 237.

Shastri, in fact, had been scoring at a snail's pace in the tri-series preceding the World Cup Down Under and India had to think out of the box.

Sachin Tendulkar was still a newcomer and the days of him turning into an authentic opener in ODIs was still distant. Eyeing a brisk scoring up in the order, India's manager Abbas Ali Baig and captain Mohammed Azharuddin then came up with an idea and it was to push the legendary all-rounder Kapil Dev, playing his fourth and final World Cup, as an opener. The aim was to use the ageing yet productive all-rounder as a pinch-hitter.

Kapil opened again against Zimbabwe

India's next game was against Sri Lanka in Mackay, Australia, where the Lankans won the toss and asked India to bat first.

The arrival of Kapil in the crease as the opening partner to Krishnamachari Srikkanth was the only point of interest on a dull day as the match was abandoned because of heavy rain. The game saw only two balls being bowled and Kapil, who was at the non-striker's end, did not get to play any.

It was a disappointment for the fans as the former World Cup-winning skipper could not get to show his skills with the bat at the top of the order and India also had to share a point with the low ranked Sri Lanka in world cricket then.

Kapil was pushed down the order for the next two games against Australia and Pakistan and after his crucial 26-ball 35 against the arch-rivals, he got a promotion again in the match that followed against Zimbabwe in Hamilton.

Kapil accompanied Srikkanth as an opener again, but could manage only 10 (14 balls, one six) before being trapped in front by Eddo Brandes. As expected, he was demoted again for the rest of the matches.

Kapil did play one more match as an opener -- in the Hero Cup held on the home soil in 1993-- but managed only a run before getting trapped by Curtly Ambrose.

The 1992 World Cup had seen a number of innovations from teams and India's contribution was to use Kapil Dev as a pinch-hitting opener, but it did not come off.

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Story first published: Saturday, April 27, 2019, 14:47 [IST]
Other articles published on Apr 27, 2019
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