Some cricket innings win matches, some make records and some change the dynamics of the game altogether. Kapil Dev’s 175* against Zimbabwe in the league stages of the 1983 World Cup after India was reduced to 17/5 is one such inning that went on to change the face of Indian Cricket and will forever be remembered.
Let’s have a look at this memorable inning and its long-lasting impact on Indian Cricket.
The 1983 World Cup
It was the summer of 1983 when Kapil Dev and his men left for England to play the third edition of the Cricket World Cup. Cricket was not the country’s favorite sport till then and India was one of the minnows in the tournament. India had only one victory in the previous two editions of the World Cup; against a very weak East African side in 1975. The 1979 edition had seen the Indians losing each of their games by a huge margin. In a World Cup with the fiery pace battery and ruthless batsmen of West Indies and Australia, the Indian players themselves did not believe that they could lay their hands on the trophy
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The 24-year old Kapil Dev was leading the Indian contingent in this World Cup who had been handed the captain-ship only four months earlier after India’s disappointing loss to Pakistan under Sunil Gavaskar. India lost all their practice games and it seemed like another disappointing tournament for Kapil Dev and his men.
However, India got the much-needed kick in the campaign when they brought down the erstwhile champions West Indies in their first match of the tournament. This was followed by a victory against Zimbabwe. However, celebrations were short-lived and the two consecutive victories were followed by two successive defeats against Australia and West Indies. India’s next encounter against Zimbabwe was a must-win to keep their hopes alive in the tournament.
The Crucial Match & A Disastrous Start
On June 18, 1983, India took on Zimbabwe in this crucial match of the World Cup where Kapil Dev won the toss and elected to bat first. However, the decision was regretted within the first few overs of the Indian innings as both the openers – Gavaskar and K Srikkanth departed for a duck. India was soon reduced to 9/4 when Kapil Dev walked out to bat at No.6. The fifth wicket soon fell with Kapil Dev on the other end as the scoreboard read 17/5. India was on the verge of another disastrous World Cup defeat but the Indian Captain had other plans.
Kapil Dev’s Innings
Kapil Dev made a cautious start to his innings as wickets kept on falling on the other end. Roger Binny provided some support before falling for 22 while Ravi Shastri was dismissed for 1. At 78-7, Indians were still staring at a defeat and victory was nowhere in sight.
At this stage, Kapil Dev stitched a 62-run partnership with tail-ender Madan Lal. Madan Lal fell for 17 and the scoreboard read 140-8. India had saved themselves from an utterly embarrassing batting collapse but a victory was still far-fetched. However, Kapil Dev had started hitting his shots and was playing his natural game.
Kapil Dev and wicket-keeper Syed Kirmani then entered into a record-breaking unbeaten ninth-wicket stand. After reaching his century in the 49th over, Kapil Dev unleashed himself scoring 75 runs in the next 11 overs. It is to be noted that ODIs were a 60-over affair till then. The duo added 126 runs where Kirmani scored only 24. Kapil Dev finished with a blistering unbeaten knock of 175 in just 138 balls that included 16 fours and 6 hits over the fence. India finished with 266 /8.
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The 1983 World Cup Victory
The combined bowling effort by Indians ensured a swift victory by 31 runs. India then defeated Australia by 118 runs in their last league match to enter into the knockout stage of the World Cup.
The Indian team then went on to defeat England in the knockout stages and then beat West Indies despite a paltry total of 183 to defend to clinch their first Cricket World Cup.
The team who had come in the tournament with only one World Cup match victory in the previous two editions achieved what no one could have believed to be possible. The world stood up and took notice of Indian cricketers’ prowess as they brought legendary teams to ground.
The Impact Of Kapil Dev’s 175
Kapil Dev’s 175* was not just important in the context of the 1983 World Cup. While the innings prevented India from a certain World Cup exit, the players have time and again told that it also brought a new energy and self-belief in the team that ultimately resulted in the World Cup victory.
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The 1983 World Cup had a great role to play in popularizing the sport in India. Many, including the great Tendulkar, took Cricket seriously only after this emphatic win. India, a team primarily looking to play for draws in test matches against the mighty West Indies and Aussies now looked to dominate the sport. The shorter format of the game became immensely popular and exciting. The 1985 Benson & Hedges Cup that India claimed followed after the World Cup victory was another feather in the Indian team’s cap.
Several records were made and broken during Kapil Dev’s knock of 175*. Most of them have been broken now but these records stayed in the books for a long time before they faded away.
Here are a few interesting facts about this innings.
- Ironically, there is no video footage of these legendary innings because BBC was on strike on the day of this match.
- The partnership record of 126* between Kapil Dev and Syed Kirmani for the ninth wicket stood unbroken for 27 years before Malinga and Matthews broke it against Australia in 2010. It is still the highest ninth-wicket partnership for India in ODIs.
- Kapil Dev’s 175* was also the highest score in ODIs by any Indian batsman for 16 years before Sourav Ganguly scored 183 against Sri Lanka in the 1999 World Cup. It was also the highest ODI score at that time before being eclipsed by Vivian Richards 189* against England in 1984.
- 175* by Kapil Dev was the highest score by any batsman in World Cup matches until Vivian Richards eclipsed it against Sri Lanka in the 1987 World Cup.
- Kapil Dev still holds the record for the highest ODI score when batting at No. 6 and lower.