India had the privilege of Kapil Dev’s services as an all-rounder during their prelude to becoming a force in world cricket.
It was only during his captaincy that the Indian team clinched its first-ever World Cup in 1983. The Indian squad edged past world-beaters West Indies, who dominated cricket in the yesteryears.
Arguably, the best all-rounder ever produced in world cricket matched the likes of Ian Botham, Richard Hadlee, and Imran Khan in the golden era of the 80s and 90s. Therefore, he was aptly chosen as the Indian cricketer of the 20th century by Wisden.
Dev recently picked the eight standout moments in his glittering career. First, it was the no-balls which he bowled during the Haryana v Punjab Ranji Trophy game in Rohtak, 1975.
Training on matted pitches, Kapil found it difficult to adjust on a real wicket as a raw Ranji bowler. He ended up bowling too many no balls while representing Haryana against Punjab at their base in Rohtak.
Second, it was his maiden ton against West Indies in Delhi in the year 1980. Kapil took just five years since starting as a serious professional to reach his maiden century against the world champions West Indies in the fifth Test of the series.
“People started saying, ‘He’s an all-rounder, he can bat,’ and that helps you stay in the team. It also helps you bowl with a more aggressive mindset. You think, ‘I can contribute with the bat, so I can bowl with some extra pace and try a thing or two.’,” Kapil told Henry Cowen of Wisden.
His third standout moment was becoming the youngest to reach the double of 1,000 Test runs and 100 Test wickets.
“Reaching 100 Test wickets was very important, though, because I was the first seam bowler to take that many wickets from India. That was special,” added the veteran cricketer.
Fourth, it was his 5/28 spell against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). “Sunny Gavaskar suggested I take a break but I said, ‘No, I’m just getting my rhythm. Don’t stop me. Let me bowl.’ I was used to bowling long spells and at that point, my focus shifted to wickets, not my thigh. That’s when the game changed,” he stated off his bowling on the given day.
Beating the West Indies for the first time in ODIs is a cherished memory for the 61-year old. His 77 and a two-wicket haul in the 2nd ODI at Guyana helped India beat the dominators of cricket back then.
Also, the 1985 Benson and Hedges World Series finals win over Pakistan in Australia holds a special place for the all-rounder from Haryana. Kapil named the wins mentioned above for India as his fifth and sixth standout moment.
“In a way, this was the most special moment for us as a team, even more, special than the World Cup win of 1983. A lot of people said our win in 1983 was a fluke, whereas, in this tournament, people believed that we were genuinely good enough to pick up the trophy,” suggested Dev.
Seventh was India’s tied Test against Australia, in Chennai, during their 1986 tour. The match was dominated by Aussie heavyweights Dean Jones (210), David Boon, and Allan Border. Kapil Dev’s 119* helped his side save face with a tie after India posted 397 in reply to Australia’s mammoth 574-7.
“I was very aggressive, hitting over cover, over mid-on, over mid-off, wherever I had the opportunity. I was more bothered with getting runs than defending my wicket.”
Finally, he chose the four consecutive sixes against Eddie Hemingway of England at Lord’s 1990. “I did plan to attack Eddie Hemmings but I didn’t plan for four sixes,” Kapil concluded.