The Day Kapil Dev Taught Indian Cricket To Dare
31 summers ago on this very day June 18th, Kapil Dev played arguably one of the finest ODI innings ever to mastermind a great turnaround for India at the 1983 World Cup. The skipper had walked in to bat with India reeling at 17 for 5 against Zimbabwe at the Tunbridge Wells. The unbeaten 175 that followed went on to register itself amongst Indian cricketing folklore and delivered underdogs India it’s first ever World Cup title.
Prior to this World Cup, India had a very dismal record at the previous ICC events. India had won just one match against East Africa, in the 1975 and 1979 editions combined. Thus the nation held no expectations from their cricket team as they travelled to England for the 1983 event. And when any Indian cricket fan would have heard of India tottering at 17 for 5, winning the match against Zimbabwe would have been a distant dream, let alone going on to win the World Cup.
On that fateful day, Roger Binny was the first one who was ready to aid his skipper in this Great Escape. Binny struck a 48-ball 22, to stitch a 60-run stand with Kapil. But the defiance was shortlived as Binny and then Ravi Shastri departed in quick succesion. Madan Lal kept on trading quick singles en route to his 17 to give his captain more of the strike. Kapil had crossed the half-century mark as Lal walked back with India at 140 for 8, still a lot of work was left in order to post a competitive total.
Along with Syed Kirmani, Kapil added 126 runs for the 9th wicket, a record that stood for 27 years until Angelo Mathews and Lasith Malinga broke it in 2010. Gloveman Kirmani played a patient knock of 56-ball 24 as the Haryana all-rounder cut loose. India ended it’s stipulated 60 overs at 266 for 8 courtesy Kapil's unbeaten 175. Inspired by their skipper, Indian bowlers utilized the seaming conditions as Zimbabwe were restricted for 235, thus ensuring a 31-run win for India. The win assured India a place in the semi-final and was the stepping stone for their title triumph that was to follow at Lords against the mighty West Indies.
Though Kapil played his finest innings and taught Indian cricket to never give up, no one could witness his magic on their telly. Since a strike by British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) led to no footage being available, this knock has gone on to achieve a mythical status. Passed on from generation to generation, every Indian cricket fan has grown up in awe of Kapil Dev. The very lack of moving images, brings a very romantic element to it, as every fan is allowed to use their own imagination to relive history and pay homage to their hero - Kapil Dev.
31 years may have passed by since that day at Tunbridge Wells, but Kapil's heroics continue to live on amongst fans' imaginations, just like the fairy-tale turnaround it was.