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Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Happy moment with legend Haryana Hurricane - Great Kapil Dev

What a day !  - what would you call a day when you meet in close quarters your hero of 45 years and you put across a Q to him too -  Surreal !! far beyond that ! 

The man, the hero – immaculately dressed 64 years young who articulated English so well but said, during his playing days, he just played and did not talk – remember ‘palmolive da jawab nahin’  (many thanks to my dear friend SR Ragunathan, Chief Photo journalist, The Hindu) Venue: Savera Hotel, Occasion book release function of 2 books written by Ms Ramaa Shankar.


No prizes for guessing – the hero, the heart-throb was Kapil Dev Nikhanj who once smacked 4 sixers in a row in a Test match off Eddie Hemmings when 24 was required to avoid follow on.    

Indian Cricket has evolved over the years – after India debuted at Lords in June 1932 and ODI in 1974.  Ordinary mortals would easily remember the best ever knock that came in difficult times, that 175*  against Zimbabwe at  Tunbridge Wells on 18th June 1983 and a week later on  25.6.1983, Kapil Dev triumphantly holding the Prudential World beating the mighty West Indians of Lloyds, Greenidge, Haynes, Dujon, Malcolm Marshall, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner and Michael Holding.  

There are more redefining moments of Indian Cricket and Kapil Dev had been the architect of some enthralling ones !!  After the book release the affable all-rounder took some Qs – yours Truly was fortunate to get the mike and pose one!

Sir ji – one Cricket Q to you :  you played in 225 One dayers and was the best allrounder India produced.  There was only one ODI in which you played as a pure Batter, do you remember that match !!  (Pa ji’s answer was a big 6!!)


Those days when we could follow Cricket only in newspapers, there was a conditioning camp at Bangalore and there were discussions that India might recall Abid Ali or give chance to Jyoti Prasad of Andhra or Barun Burman from Bengal ..   .. .. it was destiny that a young lad surfaced changing the way Indian Cricket was seen by those outside.  For that historic tour,  Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi was dropped from the squad and  three uncapped players — Kapil Dev, Bharath Reddy and Yashpal Sharma were part of the side. 

The tour to Pakistan was an all important one, coming as it after 17 years as Wars and instability had stopped Cricketing relations.   The long tour sounded death-knell for Indian famous spin quartet, Erapalli Prasanna was to play his last test but emerged young Kapil Dev  heralding pace revolution.   The tour also featured three One Day International (ODI) matches. In the third match, India's captain,  Bishen Bedi, conceded the game in protest against Sarfraz Nawaz short-pitched bowling. It was the first time an international cricket match had ended in this way.  

Kapil Dev is  the greatest pace bowler / all-rounder  India has produced.  His success was not on a platter -   Kapil Dev  debuted for Haryana in 1975 and had a 6 wicket haul against Punjab bowling them out for 63. He had 121 wickets in 30 matches in that season. Next season he took 8/36 against J&K and skittled Bengal for 58 in U19. Next year he had his maiden 10 wicket haul. He played Ranji, Duleep, Deodhar and in Irani Cup too. In Duleep he had 7/65 and scored runs at fast pace. All these happened before he played for India. 

In his debut match, his bouncers sent Paki openers Sadiq Mohammad and Majid Khan scurrying and calling for a helmet – and ODI no. 54 at Quetta on 1st Oct 1978 was significant not only for Kapil Dev making debut but   that was  second win in an ODI for Team India,  the first having come against East Africa in inaugural World Cup 1975.    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


Kapil Dev Nikhanj  after playing for 16 years – on inane tracks with little support from cathching cardon still finished  making 5248 runs in 131 Tests (184 innings) and taking 434 wickets.  In 225  One dayers, he scored 3783 runs taking 253 wickets. 

As we scan the annals of Indian Test Cricket – some famous wins were wrought by him.   In Jan 1979 – chasing 125 Indians were struggling and had lost 7 wickets when Kapil stole a bye to get that winning run against Alvin Kaicharran’s WI team.  In Pongal test of 1980 against Imran’s Pak – Kapil was the man of the match having scored 84 and taking 11 wickets – Kapil Dev was presented a Enfield Bullet Motor cycle and that paper cutting was with for many decades. 

At Melbourne in 1981 against tough Aussies led by Greg Chappel with Dennis Lillee bowling fast and furious – Kapil’s heroics (when he was on pain-killer) 5/28 bundled OZ for 83 and giving a great win in foreign soil.  

Well remember that Pongal test of 1988 in what was written as Narendra Hirwani test for his 16 wicket haul, Kapil made a valiant 109 that ensured Indian win against Viv Richards WI. 

If you remember that Cricket Q (I posed to Kapil)   ODI 395 on 7th Oct 1986 against Australia at Rajkot,  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.    His 50 came off mere 26 balls as he hit Craig Mcdermott for 24 runs in an over.  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.   That was one time when Kapil Dev played as a pure batsman. 

Kapil Dev was at his humourous best on today’s function – spoke a few Tamil words he learnt from Srikkanth, spoke about the way he came up, advised on ‘living the day happily’ .. .. and his answer to my Q was :  Well, I don’t feel the need to remember any such thing !  - those were my playing days and after some years things are not that significant !


It was a great evening listening to the fantastic speech peppered with his experiences and humour as the humble down-to-earth (he frowned at these adjectives) kept the crowd in raptures.  

Great Haryana Hurricane  – would ever savour today’s memories and we all love you so much
With great regards – S Sampathkumar

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