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Kapil Dev

Kapil Dev

Although cricket became popular during British rule in India but it was largely because of one player that the game became a household name in India in 80s. Kapil Dev ruled the minds and hearts of an entire generation in the 1980s and the one that followed. In short, Kapil Dev was India’s best fast bowler, best all-rounder and one of India’s best captains.

Born on January 6, 1959 to Ram Lal Nikhanj and Raj Kumari in Chandigarh, Punjab, Kapil Dev was the greatest fast-bowling all rounder India has produced. With a bat, he was an aggressive lower-middle order batsman who could shift the momentum of the game in minutes.

As a child Kapil’s passion for the game was noticed by his parents and they encouraged him to take up the game seriously under the guidance of Desh Prem Azad. Kapil made his impressive first-class debut for Haryana in November 1975 against Punjab with a 6 wicket haul. There was no looking back after that as one splendid performance followed another.

Kapil made his international debut in October 1978 in Faisalabad, against Pakistan and gradually showcased himself with both bat and ball, especially in Test cricket. He showcased his all-rounder talent when he scored India’s fastest Test half-century off 33 balls during the third Test match against Pakistan.

When Kapil was just 20, he set a new record of scoring 1000 runs and taking 100 wickets. All these qualities made him the only player in the history of the game to have taken over 400 wickets and scored more than 5000 runs in Test cricket. This made him one of the all-time best all-rounders of the game.

For the next few seasons, steady performance with the ball and useful contribution with the bat made him the captain-material at a young age. Kapil Dev debuted as India’s captain in 1982-83 seasons against Sri Lanka when Sunil Gavaskar was rested and was appointed the captain for the World Cup in 1983.

Kapil played one of the all-time best knocks in a must-win match against Zimbabwe, where he rescued India from the disastrous 17 for 5 with a stunning 175 of 138 balls. With the win over Zimbabwe and England India were in finals to take on the mighty West Indies cricket team who were looking for a hat-trick of World Cups titles. Kapil Dev had upset West Indians to win India’s maiden World Cup title and Kapil Dev led from the front with 303 runs and 12 wickets in 8 matches.

Kapil was retained as captain for the 1987 Cricket World Cup, where India lost to England in the semi-final. Kapil Dev took responsibility of unexpectedly loss against England and never captained India again, although he continued to be India’s frontline pacer till he retired in 1994 as Test cricket’s highest wicket taker.

At overall Kapil Dev played 184 innings in 131 Test matches for India and scored 5,248 runs with an average of 31.05, which includes 8 centuries and 27 half centuries and took 434 wickets with 9/83 as best bowling figures. He scored 3,783 runs in 225 One Day Internationals with a batting average of 23.79 and took 253 wickets with 5/43 as best bowling figures.

After retirement, Kapil became India’s coach for a brief period of time in 1999-2000. At the height of the match fixing allegation by Manoj Prabhakar- a charge that was subsequently dismissed later, Kapil resigned from his position as national coach.

However, he returned from a significantly quiet period when Wisden announced him as one of the sixteen finalists for the Wisden Indian Cricketer of the Century Award in July 2002. Kapil was chosen the Indian cricketer of the century by Wisden, beating the likes of the grest Sunil Gavaskar and the batting genius, Sachin Tendulkar.