Kapil’s 175

Kapil’s 175 in the 1983 World cup

Excerpts from my book ‘The Devil’s Pack’

Though Kaps is a couple of years younger to me, he has always treated me like a younger brother; and I have always looked up to him for guidance. He calls up from wherever he is just to check if everything is okay and if he could help in any way. Despite his busy schedule, he took time off to attend my engagement party in November 1984; it was a great gesture on his part.

I was witness to two of Kapil’s performances which changed India’s cricket history – perhaps sporting history –forever. On a chilly morning at Turnbridge Wells in England
in the 1983 World Cup, India was 17-5; down for the count against minnows Zimbabwe. Our chances of qualifying for the semifinals were resting squarely on the shoulders of skipper Kapil Dev, who walked in and stemmed the rot along with Roger Binny and Madan Lal. Once he had his eye in, he set about decimating the Zimbabwe bowlers one by one in the company of Kirmani. He mercilessly clobbered six sixes and sixteen fours and selected Kevin Curran and Peter Rawson – who had done the early damage – for special treatment. His sixes cleared the longest boundary by a long way. His unbeaten 175 shell-shocked the Zimbabweans and India sailed into the semifinals somewhat comfortably.

During that historic knock, I was sitting in the dressing room with a hot cup of coffee to keep myself warm and hoping that India would at least reach a fighting score. When lunch was announced, with India still not out of the woods, Kapil Dev walked into the dressing room welcomed by a deathly silence. The atmosphere was almost funereal. ‘C’mon guys!’ said Kapil Dev. ‘We’ve got to fight it out. The match isn’t over yet. All of you better have your lunch and replenish your energy. We can’t fight back with empty stomachs!’ Those words lifted the spirits of the whole team. We wanted to do well for this captain who led from the front. That knock of his will be remembered as one of the fi nest for all time to come. It is indeed sad that this epic inning was not recorded for posterity as BBC TV was on strike that day. The legend, Sunil Gavaskar, was so impressed by that knock from Kapil Dev that he met him halfway to the pavilion with a glass of water.

Mr. Wankhede, BCCI President, who had come to watch that match at Turnbridge Wells, ordered his chauffeur not to leave the ground when he saw us reduced to 17-5. As things turned out, he had to wait till late evening to see the last Zimbabwean wicket tumbling.