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Sunday, July 29, 2018

Kapil Dev to play for India again ! ~ this time golf

Years ago, it was a conditioning camp in Chennai – hundreds of us had gathered to see the Indian team practice ..  there was Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar, local lad Krish Srikkanth – stadium erupted when the irrepressible Indian fast bowler Kapil Dev entered in – as others were loosening up, Kapil did some ground exercises, then started running – we literally lost count, as he ran with ease – Rajinder Singh Ghai only could run along – many others stopped in round 1 – 2- 3 .. Kapil Dev was always a superstar ~ the best thing that happened to Indian Cricket !!

It was ODI no. 54 at Quetta on 1st Oct 1978, when India led by Bishan Bedi played Pak and won by 4 runs  ~ that was Indian second win in an ODI, the first having come against East Africa in inaugural World Cup 1975.  At Iqbal Stadium, Faisalabad on 16th  Oct 1978, Pakistanis and the World were to witness a rare spectacle – a bouncer from Indian pacer, and Sadiq Mohammad calling for a helmet !  In that one dayer Kapil Dev made his debut alongside senior Chetan Chauhan and Surinder Amarnath.  Mohinder Amarnath’s 51 and 2 wickets fetched him man of the match.  Kapil had figures of 8-0-27-1; Karsan Ghavri 35/1, Bishan Bedi 2 for 44 and Srinivasan Venkatraghavan 8-0-14-0 !

That was a historical series – for there had been no Cricket between 1961 to 1978 between the neighbouring the Nations.  In the WC 1975 too, India had not played Pak.  On that tour, visitors were led by Bishan Singh  Bedi, the enigmatic left-arm spinner, aided by leggie Chandrasekhar and Erapalli Prasanna – the tour turned a graveyard for the famous spin quartet is another story.  Madanlal and Karsan Ghavri were in the squad, so also was an youngster, Kapil Dev, a man who could bowl fast, and who went on to create World Record for the highest no. of wickets for many years, before the record was broken.   Kapil also scored a breezy 50 in the 3rd test at Karachi. 

Kapil Dev Nikhanj would ever be remembered as one of the greatest All rounders of India scoring 5248 runs in 131 Tests (184 innings) and taking 434 wickets.  In 225  One dayers, he scored 3783 runs taking 253 wickets.  Trivia.  There was one ODI, whence he played as a pure batsman, not bowling a single delivery in a completed innings.  That was ODI 395 on 7th Oct 1986 against Australia at Rajkot, where he was the captain.  During the time, when delaying the over rate and bowling lesser no. of overs was an approved tactic,  India opening with Krish Srikkanth and Raman Lamba made a healthy 260 for 6 in 48 overs.  Lamba made a century.  Kapil Dev blasted a quick fire 58 off 31 balls with 5 fours and 2 sixers.   But the Indian attack without Kapil lacked the incisiveness.  It was Madanlal, Rudra Pratap Singh, Rajinder Ghai, Ravi Shastri, Maninder Singh.  Krish Srikkanth bowled 2 overs while Azharuddin bowled the last over.  Border’s unbeaten 91 saw them through  ~ and there were some instances when Kapil Dev opened the batting too –more specifically in that 1992 World Cup in Australia.

The first instance perhaps was ODI no. 722 at Mackay, Harrup Park on 28th Feb 1992, when Kapil surprised all,  walking with Krish Srikkanth – but that match lasted just 2 deliveries of Ramanayake – Kapil not facing a ball at all.  Against Zimbabwe at Hamiltaon, Kapil & Srikkanth had a partnership of 23, Kapil fell for 10; Srikkanth made 32.  It was a 32 over match, which India won.   Then in CAB jubilee – Hero Cup match against West Indies at Motera, Ahmedabad, in Nov 1993, Kapil opened with Manoj Prabhakar. 

Those who saw Kapil would ever remember for his pace, his gutsy hitting, hit athleticism, his fielding [ever remember that great catch he took in 1983 finals at Lords running back yards to dismiss Viv Richards off Madanlal], his running between the wickets and his passion for the game. Truly, a great inspiring all-rounder.  The great Kapil Dev, who transformed the way, Indians were respected on field.

Now comes the news that Kapil Dev will play for India again – Kapil will represent India in the 2018 Asia Pacific Seniors golf tournament after a string of good performances in the All India Senior Tournament. He had finished third in the All India Senior Tournament, which was held at the JP Greens Golf Course in Noida in July. The 2018 Asia Pacific Seniors will begin from October 17 at the Tom Watson Golf Club in Miyazaki, Japan. Kapil, who had earlier played the tournament in 2015 in China, will be a part of the Indian gold team. 

Kapil will play alongside Rishi Narain (winner of the senior National 2018) and Amit Luthra (the winner of Senior National 2015). Kapil had previously said that he was at first skeptical about playing a sport again but that went away the moment he tried out the game. "In golf you have total control on your body, power, strength, and the result is yours. You can't raise a finger on anybody. I think that gave me the strength, so I can criticise myself and I can say that I played bad.

As Kapil embarks on his new journey, he would hope that his new stint for his country is as fruitful as his previous one.  Kapil is not the first.

Former paceman Ajit Agarkar was good in golf and had represented   India at the World Corporate Golf Challenge after winning the India Finals, few years ago
With regards – S. Sampathkumar
29th July 2018.

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