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World Cup flashbacks: When Kapil Dev played the innings of his life

Kapil Dev

Bengaluru, April 12: When India went to the 1983 World Cup under the captaincy of Kapil Dev, not many had given them a chance.

Till then, the only win that India managed in the quadrennial event was one over East Africa and that too eight years ago.

However, Kapil's Devils hated to consider themselves underdogs and the fans got a glimpse of that when India humbled defending champions West Indies in the very first match by 34 runs.

They then beat debutants Zimbabwe by five wickets but were hammered by Australia by 162 runs in the next game followed by a 66-run loss to the Caribbeans.

With two wins from four games, Kapil's men had their task cut out to make the semi-finals - India's first-ever in a World Cup - and they took on Zimbabwe at Nevill Ground at Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Another setback and India could have slipped giving Australia a golden opportunity to make the last four.

Walked in with India reeling at 9 for 4!

It was June 18 and India won the toss and took first use of the wicket. Though Zimbabwe were newcomers, they had already staged an upset in their very first game by beating Australia by 13 runs.

India were in for a shock as they lost Sunil Gavaskar in the second ball. The two Zimbabwean opening bowlers - Peter Rawson and Kevin Curran (father of current England sensation Sam Curran) - ran through the Indian top order, reducing them to a precarious nine for four with captain Kapil walking out.

Soon after Kapil took guard, Yashpal Sharma departed and India were reeling at 17 for five. Only 24 then, Kapil was made the captain of the Indian team only a few months before the World Cup and there was still doubt in the air whether the man was fit to be the skipper.

Kapil Dev

But that one innings showed the star that was set to shine a week later. Kapil first ensured that India did not get bowled out cheaply against a non-Test playing side (they had already lost to a non-Test playing nation in Sri Lanka in the 1979 World Cup) and added 60 runs with Roger Binny.

After Binny got out and Ravi Shastri followed suit, India were 78 for seven and Madan Lal gave his captain a worthy company for 62 runs for the eighth wicket. When Madan Lal fell to Curran, India were 140 for eight and in came Syed Kirmani to play the innings of his life.

Kirmani remained not out on just 24 playing 56 deliveries but his unbeaten 126-run partnership with Kapil had turned the game on its head. Kapil completed his hundred, his only in ODIs, in the 49th over and then went on the attack in the next 11 overs (the games were of 60 overs then) to remain not out on 175 at the end (138 balls; 16 fours; six sixes). An individual score of 175 in a one-day game was unthinkable those days, but legends like Kapil were destined to do the unthinkable.

India finished with a respectable 266 for eight and though Curran came up with a 73 in the chase, Zimbabwe fell short of the target by 31 runs as they were all out for 235. Kapil opened India's attack and bowled 11 overs taking one wicket, while conceding only 32 runs.

Match scorecard

India won all their remaining games in the tournament, including the final against the mighty West Indies to lift their maiden World Cup.

The fans were unlucky as the game was not telecast live with a lightning strike going on in BBC and no professional cameraman had recorded the immortal innings that one of the game's greatest all-rounders had played on the world stage.

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Story first published: Friday, April 12, 2019, 17:34 [IST]
Other articles published on Apr 12, 2019
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