Kapil Dev is widely regarded as one of the greatest all-rounders the world of cricket has ever seen. He alongside Imran Khan, Sir Richard Hadlee and Sir Ian Botham formed the famous quartet of the all-rounders that plied their trade in the 1980s. His biggest moment came in 1983 when his Indian team defeated two-time champions West Indies in the finals at the Lord’s and made India world champions.
He was chosen as the Indian cricketer of the 20th century by Wisden and in a chat with Henry Cowen of the same publication, Kapil Dev shared the eight standout moments of his illustrious career.
No balls during the Haryana v Punjab Ranji Trophy match in Rohtak, 1975
Kapil Dev recalls that he was so raw when Haryana met Punjab in 1975 in a Ranji Trophy match. He also recounts that he bowled many no-balls in that match thanks to his first time playing on a pitch, after training on matting wickets in Chandigarh. He was 22 at that time and just wanted to bowl quick.
First Test century- vs West Indies, Delhi, 1980
Kapil Dev scored his first Test century against the West Indies in the fifth Test of the series played in Delhi in 1979. He says that he scored his first century in Tests well before picking a five-wicket haul in the format. He mentions, “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.’
The youngest man to 1,000 Test runs and 100 Test wickets
Kapil Dev was the youngest player ever to reach the double of 1,000 Tests and 100 wickets. He achieved the feat against Pakistan in the 6th match of the series in Kolkata in 1980.”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,” Kapil recalls.
5/28 vs Australia, Melbourne, 1981
India came very close to winning their maiden Test series in Australia on the tour of 1981. Kapil Dev’s best performance came in the Melbourne Test when he picked 5/28 on the final morning despite being laid down with a thigh injury, making it difficult for him to bowl at full pace.
“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,” Kapil recalls.
Beating the West Indies for the first time in ODIs
West Indies was the team to beat in the 80s and India rarely got any wins over the Clive Lloyd-led team. But Kapil Dev scored 77 and picked two wickets in the 2nd ODI in Guyana to help India beat the Caribbeans for the first time. This was before the 1983 World Cup, which gave Kapil and his team confidence that they can do it again.
Benson and Hedges World Series finals win over Pakistan in Australia, 1985
“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,” Kapil said.
Tied Test vs Australia, Chennai, 1986
Kapil scored 119* in the first innings of the famous tied Test between India and Australia in Chennai in 1986. India made 397 in reply to Australia’s 574/7d, which had Dean Jones making 210 and David Boon and Allan Border making centuries. Talking about his innings, Kapil said, “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.”
The four sixes against England at Lord’s 1990
Graham Gooch scored 333 and 123 to put India under the sword in the first Test against India at Lord’s in 1990. Ravi Shastri and Mohammad Azharuddin made centuries in first innings, but the glory was taken by Kapil Dev, who in his 77* hit four sixes in four balls off Eddie Hemmings. He is the only batsman to achieve this feat in Tests. He says,” I did plan to attack Eddie Hemmings but I didn’t plan for four sixes.”
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