Former Indian cricketer Kapil Dev turned 61 on Monday and wishes came pouring in for the 1983 World Cup-winning captain. Dev was widely considered to be one of India’s greatest all-rounders of all time. He starred in what is arguably still considered as India's finest ODI triumph till date. As Indian cricket lovers celebrate the 61st birthday of the cricketer, we take a look back at his iconic innings of 175-not-out during the same tournament.
India went into the 1983 Cricket World Cup with just one win in the previous two editions combined. They faced Zimbabwe in Match No. 20 of the tournament. Their fixture at the Royal Tunbridge Wells on June 18 was also their fifth Group B match. In that edition, India had won their first two games only to squander a good start by losing their next two.
In their match against Zimbabwe, Kapil Dev had won the toss and opted to bat first. Team India lost a flurry of wickets upfront and were 9-4 in no time. Dev then walked into bat with an uphill task ahead, i.e. to lead India’s recovery in a must-win game. 9-4 soon became 17-5 but Kapil Dev remained unfazed at the crease as the right-hander went on to register an epic hundred.
To this date, Kapil Dev has been asked to describe his innings across many interviews. In one such conversation with a leading media daily, the maverick all-rounder said that he was taking a shower when India were losing wickets in succession at the top. He added that he heard a knock on his door when someone informed him that India are three wickets down already.
At the time of India’s fourth wicket, Kapil Dev said that he arrived at the crease without much thinking about the strategy ahead. He recollected how he was upset for a moment but his unplanned arrival turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Team India in that tournament. Once he was set at the crease, Dev decided to just make the most of the opportunity and enjoy himself out there as he had nothing to lose as such. In another interview, Dev's teammate and batting legend Sunil Gavaskar called his innings of 175* as the 'innings which was of the highest class that did not just win India the match, but changed the face of Indian cricket forever.' It was a bold claim considering that the innings was never broadcasted on television.
India eventually batted out their full quota of 60 overs to score 266-8. Kapil Dev remained unbeaten at 175 till the end and struck 16 boundaries and six towering sixes in a 138-ball statement of indomitability. Zimbabwe were then folded out for 235 to hand India a 31-run victory in a crucial World Cup fixture. The innings went to on turn India's fortunes as well as they went on to lift the marquee trophy.