Tribute to one of the greatest knocks in the history of the World Cup Cricket!
18th June 1983; Despair and Agony were dancing through the ground. Hope was being torn apart. Dreams were being crushed. Melancholy was singing a duet with Desperation. Then came a hero who broke through the shackles of the pandemonium with a swing of his willow. In one of the most resonating World Cup matches ever, Indian captain Kapil Dev stood tall and made his way towards a record-breaking 175*. This knock was widely acclaimed by the pundits to be one of the greatest efforts of all time.
In the 1983 World Cup, India wasn’t even considered worthy of being underdogs. Kapil and Co. were said to be just ‘filling’ the places. India certainly had other plans. They started their campaign with a surprising win against the West indies. India humiliated the favourites by bowling them all out. The Men in Blue, who wore whites then, continued their dominance with a thumping victory over Zimbabwe. India’s momentum was suddenly stopped when they came against Australia. Kapil took the attack to the Aussie Batsmen, but poor fielding overall gave the Kangaroos a lot of chances. In the end, India faced a massive defeat.
Their hopes for regaining their momentum were crushed when they became a target for Windies, who were eager to have their vengeance. Viv Richards clobbered Indian pace attack to every nook and cranny of the stadium. India also lost the services of Dilip Vengsarkar in the process.
India was now on the verge of breaking down. They needed a win at all costs to stay alive in the World Cup. Standing against them was a meek Zimbabwe side, which was already out of the tourney. It just so happened that on the particular day of 18th June, Gods of Cricket bestowed the curse of swing upon the Indian camp. Zimbabwe was rejoicing with the presence of the swing and tore apart the Indian top-order.
Sunil Gavaskar, Kris Srikkanth, Mohinder Amarnath, and Sandeep Patil were all outdone by the swing of Kevin Curran and Peter Rawson. The scoreboard read 9/4. India’s last ray of hope was the partnership between Yashpal Sharma and the skipper Kapil Dev. Unfortunately, the stand lasted for just eight runs, as Yashpal edged an outswinger to the keeper. Roger Binny came out. Binny and Dev made a stabilizing 60-run partnership, which was once again broken.
Kapil Dev was left stranded. None of the remaining players was adept at batting. He had the burden of scoring alone, all the while preserving his wicket and also hoping that the tail holds the other end. From what was supposed to be one of the most disadvantageous situations, Kapil Dev kicked into a different gear. After Ravi Shastri was dismissed, Madan Lal became an able ally for the skipper.
With the innings finally becoming stable, Kapil brought his Brahmastra- The Mongoose Bat. Madan Lal soon got dismissed, just as Kapil reached his half-century. Syed Kirmani came in and held one end, allowing Kapil to counter-attack in the remaining 20-odd overs. What followed next was utter chaos. It was pure mayhem. Kapil Dev bludgeoned the Zimbabwe bowlers to all the corners of the ground. He dominated in such a fashion that cheers and delight returned to the Indian fans.
Kapil’s carnage resurrected Indian innings in a frenzy fashion. A team which would have been happy with a 150 was now steering above 200.
Yet Kapil kept going. He crossed his 100 and 150, but the skipper didn’t celebrate. The man was in the zone. He just kept going on and on. Sure enough, the Haryana Hurricane reached the point of no return. He has equalized the World record of 171 by Glenn Turner. He soon broke it and established a new World Record, completely oblivious to the fact. This innings by Kapil Dev was one of the benchmarks set in the rich history of cricket. Kapil truly proved that Heroes emerge from the darkness.
“He walked in when India were just nine runs for four wickets. He faced 138 balls, 16 boundaries and six sixes. He took India to 266/8, and he himself finished with a historic 175, not out.” as quoted by Farokh Engineer. It was also quoted, “Today we saw undoubtedly one of the greatest knocks in the history of this beautiful game.”
We here at The Sportsway are grateful to have heard the eternal tales of courage and persistence of the ex-Indian Captain.