Happy Birthday Kapil Dev - India’s ultimate Cricketer who put the Nation on the World Map

Kapil Dev, the Indian cricket team’s inspirational captain who helped the side win the 1983 World Cup, turns 63 on January 6.

Kapil Dev helped India win the World Cup in 1983. (Image credit: Delhi Capitals Twitter)

India and its cricket fans are enjoying a wave of euphoria currently. The team is ranked No.1 in the world and is on the cusp of dominating the world. Off the field, the average Indian is soaking in the glory of Film 83, a biopic of India’s epoch-making World Cup triumph in 1983. January 6 is marked as a Red-Letter Day in the history of Indian sports. It is the birth of the captain who helped put Indian cricket on the world map. For all his contributions, Kapil Dev will forever be remembered as one of the greatest sportsmen in the history of the country.

His arrival came at a time when Indian cricket was torn between the Mumbai and Delhi Circles of Cricket. It was Sunil Gavaskar vs Bishan Singh Bedi. The majority of the cricketers came from the elite circles of Bombay and Delhi. Both sides dominated the Ranji Trophy. There was a negligible presence of players from the South, primarily from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. But, Kapil Dev came from a place that had no presence in the sport.

Chandigarh in the 1970s was a far cry from the splendors of Delhi and Mumbai. A player emerging from Rohtak to break into the Indian cricket team would have been impossible in the 70s. But, Kapil Dev emerged and he went on to change the face of Indian cricket forever.

Read | Movie Review – 83 The Film

Kapil Dev – 1983 World Cup bad start

Kapil Dev played for Haryana and he had already made a name for himself in the cricket circles. When he was selected for the tour of Pakistan in 1978, he was one pace bowler who had pace. He occasionally hit the helmet of the Pakistan batsmen with his zip and nip. Here was one fast bowler who was changing the way pace bowling was in India.

The first signs of Kapil Dev’s genius came in the 1981 tour of Australia. He was laid low by a groin injury. In the Melbourne Test, India was already 0-1 down and needed to defend 143. Kapil Dev knew that he had to contribute. Taking pain-killing injections, Kapil Dev bowled a spell for the ages to take five wickets and help India win in Melbourne. It was this performance that left an impression on Indian cricket fans. Kapil was destined for greater things.

During the 1983 World Cup, India had made a bad start when they lost to Australia and West Indies in their opening games. Against Zimbabwe, India was 17/5 when Kapil Dev changed the entire course of the match. He blasted 175 which included six sixes. India reached 266/8. No footage exists of that match. But, in the film 83, there is a glimpse of the power of Kapil Dev. Played by Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh, one can imagine the power and awe he generated. If anyone missed the footage of that match, the film 83 provides glimpses of that knock albeit in a much-dramatized manner.

Kapil Dev – 1983 World Cup champions

That knocked against Zimbabwe was the tonic that Indian cricket needed for their resurgence. They defeated the West Indies and Australia to enter the knockout stages. Prior to their win in the 1983 World Cup, India had beaten West Indies in ODIs only once and that was in Berbice before the tour. The wins against Australia and West Indies boosted their profile, having won only one match in two World Cup editions and that too against East Africa.

With each and every step, Kapil Dev led from the front. When India defeated England in the semifinal, they were on the cusp of glory. During the final at Lord’s against the two-time champions, Kapil Dev had a pivotal moment. India were bowled out for 183 and they had to bowl exceptionally well. Sir Viv Richards, the greatest batsman at that time, was on fire as he blasted 31 in quick time. Then came the moment that changed the match.

Richards top-edged a pull shot from Madan Lal. Kapil Dev ran back from square leg, kept his eyes on the ball and took a brilliant catch. History was about to be made. Mohinder Amarnath took 3/12 as India sealed a historic win by 43 runs. The fight for India’s respect in cricket had been won thanks to Kapil Dev and his men. It was the moment that changed world cricket forever. The 1983 World Cup triumph ensured India became an economic superpower in the sport. Nations were now starting to take India seriously.

Kapil Dev and his records

The 1983 World Cup triumph ensured that India was now the ultimate power in cricket. They won the Benson and Hedges World Championship of cricket in Australia. They repeated their 1971 triumph in England by winning both the ODI and Test series in 1986. At that time, Kapil Dev’s stock as the greatest all-rounder in the world rose.

The 80s were the period which saw all-rounders dominate. Sir Ian Botham, Sir Richard Hadlee, and Imran Khan along with Kapil. These four competitors ensured world cricket was enriched. Kapil Dev’s aggressive batting set the bar high. No one will ever forget the 1990 Lord’s Test in which he blasted four sixes off Eddie Hemmings to avoid the follow-on.

In 1994, he became the leading wicket-taker in Tests when he went past Sir Richard Hadlee’s mark of 431 wickets. Prior to 1994, he created greater glory at home when he helped his state side Haryana beat champions Bombay in their fortress of the Wankhede stadium in 1991. Kapil Dev’s captaincy helped Haryana beat Mumbai by two runs in what was the closest Ranji Trophy final ever. Remarkably, this was the only Ranji final that Sachin Tendulkar lost in his entire 25-year career.

For all his contributions to world and Indian cricket, Kapil Dev will forever be remembered as a legend. As he turns 63, his fame and glory remain intact. 83 The Film is a small tribute to the grand genius of Kapil Dev.

Sportslumo Desk

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