Kapil Dev was not just a all-rounder but the leader Indian cricket team needed when other legends were crumbling to perform. There have been times when we have seen underdogs steal the show in a sport. There are moments in history which revolutionized the whole nation. One such moment was 1983 Cricket World Cup final when millions of Indians were holding their breath to see their country topple the world’s best cricket team at that time, the mighty West Indies.
The bookies had ran their odds to 50:1 against India. But one man refused to believe in it. He was none other than the leader of the Indian team, a tall young man, Kapil Dev.
In his words “The journey of the 1983 team is a story of inspiration which proves that one can achieve anything if they aim for it and work for it no matter what the world thinks”
Kapil Dev : How it all began
Kapil Dev Ramlal Nikhanj (born on 6 January 1959), better known as Kapil Dev, is a former Indian cricketer. He captained the Indian cricket team which won the 1983 Cricket World Cup. Wisden named him as the Indian Cricketer of the Century in 2002. The greatest all-rounders of all time also coached India’s national cricket team for 10 months between October 1999 and August 2000.
Kapil’s family noticed his passion for the game and they encouraged him to take up the game seriously. Kapil was hardly 14 when he started playing for the DAV school. The right arm medium pace bowler started his cricketing lessons under the guidance of Desh Prem Azad. At the age of 15, Kapil Dev was invited to attend a live-in coaching camp in Bombay. The camp was conducted by Hemu Adhikari, an ex India test cricketer. He made his first class debut at the age of 17, in November 1975, against Punjab. His performance was just splendid with 6 wickets for just 39 runs. There was no looking back after that as this was just the prelude for an awe inspiring career.
In his next few matches, Kapil Dev destroyed the opposition (Jammu and Kashmir, Bengal and Services) with his lethal deliveries. One of the greatest cricketers of India had arrived and the day was not far off when Kapil would make it to the Indian team. It was in 1978, at Faisalabad, against Pakistan when Kapil made his debut in the Indian Cricket Team . He could not make a big impression but this series saw the emergence of Kapil Dev as a talented all rounder with exceptional bowling skills.
What made Kapil Dev and his career special
Kapil’s biggest asset was his outswinger that he bowled at will. Later, he developed the inswinging yorker and once famously remarked “God gave me the outswinger, I had to develop the rest”. Towards the middle of his career, the right handed batsman also started developing his batting skills in the lower middle order. He proved his worth as a batsman when he scored 175 of just 138 balls against Zimbabwe in the 1983 World Cup. This innings turned around the tournament for India. His 5000 plus runs and 400 odd wickets in Tests made him an all rounder in the league of Imran Khan, Botham and Hadlee. While he may not be the best of the captains, he was much more attacking than his Indian predecessors.
Kapil’s illustrious Test as well as ODI career saw many achievements, records and rewards. In early 1994, he became the highest Test wicket-taker in the world, breaking the record held by Sir Richard Hadlee. His record was broken by Courtney Walsh in 1999. He is the only player to have achieved the all-rounder’s double of 4,000 Test runs and 400 Test wickets. At the age of 27 he became the youngest test cricketer to take 300 wickets. He holds the record of having a career with 184 innings without being runout. In 1988, Kapil overtook Joel Garner, the mighty West Indian, to become the highest wicket-taker in ODI cricket. His ODI career tally of 253 wickets remained a record until Wasim Akram broke it in 1994.
Laurels showered upon Kapil Dev
During the course of this wonderful career this cricketing master received many laurels. In 1979–80 Kapil Dev was awarded with the Arjuna Award, which was followed by Padma Shri award in 1982. He became the Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1983 when he led India to win the world cup. This was not the end, he received the Padma Bhushan award in 1991 and became the Wisden Indian Cricketer of the Century in 2002. On 24 September 2008 Kapil Dev joined the Indian Territorial Army and was commissioned as a Lieutenant Colonel by General Deepak Kapoor, Chief of the Army Staff. He joined as an honorary officer. In 2010 he was inducted in the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame. In 2013 he received the CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement award and in the same year he named in the list of 25 Greatest Global Living Legends In India released by NDTV.
Kapil Dev is a living legend and his career and achievements are an inspiration for the younger generation of athletes. Let’s celebrate this man who is one of the biggest reasons which shaped Indian cricket to its present glory. Cricketers are known to make us proud throughout the history, but do you know India has done wonders in football too? Mohd. Yousuf Khan , the man who made Indian flag fly high on a football turf. His is a story worth watching.