Kapil Dev’s 175* against Zimbabwe

There are two kinds of memorable knocks, those which will be remembered in the history and those which influenced history. Kapil Dev’s iconic knock of 175* is of the second kind.

The Context:

The 1983 World Cup (then Prudential Cup) was hosted by England. This was the third time consecutively that England was hosting the tournament because no other nation could organize an event of such magnitude. Back then, apart from England, the cricket boards of all the countries barring Australia couldn’t even afford hosting bilateral series, so, hosting the World Cup couldn’t even be thought of.

England and West Indies were the hot favorites to win the cup. India was expected to end in the last 3 positions of the table. India was clearly the underdog.

BCCI didn’t take the tournament seriously as India’s chances to win were very bleak. The fans weren’t really interested too. Even the players weren’t expecting to win. A newly married Srikkant brought along his wife to the tournament so that they could have a honeymoon in England.

To sum it up, people were least bothered about India’s chances.

The Tournament:

Prior to the match against Zimbabwe, in which Kapil scored the iconic 175*, India played 4 matches losing two of them. They were in a do-or-die situation against Zimbabwe.

The Match:

This was probably the least anticipated match of the tournament. Both teams were expected to end up at the bottom of the table. A ground (not even a stadium) that never hosted any international game was allotted for the fixture. This stadium, Nevill Ground, was situated in Tunbridge Wells and it coincidentally never hosted an ODI before or after this game.

As we all know, the BBC refused to telecast the match owing to a strike. Batting first, India was 9 for the loss of 4 wickets when Kapil walked in. Yes, you read that right, the score was 9/4. And in no time, India lost another wicket.

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He played calmly until he scored around 80 runs. He along with Yashpal Sharma, stitched up a partnership of 60 runs for the sixth wicket. Things seemed under control until Sharma was out. India lost two more wickets in a row after that.

Kapil now started playing his natural game. Gavaskar describing this part of the innings said, “Kapil had gone berserk!”

Syed Kirmani, who walked in, was not much of a batsman. And the only thing he was asked to do was give the strike to Kapil every time he faced the bowler. Kapil took on every bowler with ease. Sixes and fours came naturally.

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He hit 6 sixes and 17 fours and ended up with a strike-rate of 125+, in what ended up being a legendary knock. It was also the first ODI century scored by an Indian.

Credits given to this knock of 175*, India was able to win the match even after reeling at a score of 9/4 at one point of time.

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With a victory in this match, the team was now inspired to win the tournament.

The real story:

India managed to embarrass the hosts in the semi-finals and reached the finals.

India’s victorious run in the World Cup got many heads turning back home. People were now excited for the team.

One of the BCCI heads NKP Salve invited many dignitaries to watch the finals in Lords with a seating capacity of 30,000. And on the day of the match, England’s cricket board insulted Salve by refusing to allot seats to Indian dignitaries. The response he received was, All the tickets were pre-allotted, as we didnt expect an underdog to make to the finals.”

India managed to lift the trophy.

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BCCI was miffed with England administration’s attitude towards the sub-continent teams.

And England was planning to host the 1987 World Cup too. With PCB’s (Pakistan) support, BCCI managed to convince all the teams that the sub-continent was resourceful enough to host the World Cup. Later, Sri Lanka backed out of the hosting duties.

England made it to the finals of the 1987 World Cup. Then, the BCCI management walked to the English administration and said, “We have arranged the tournament in a stadium that has a capacity of 1,10,000 people. You can have as many seats as you want.”

As you can see, that knock has a lot of history to it. Some iconic statements about that knock:

Had Kapil failed to score in that game, India would have lost the game and ultimately tournament and the Indian cricket would never fall on the glorious path it is now.

Ayaz Memon, a cricket journalist and one of the few outsiders who witnessed this innings

Looking at that knock, I can tell you Kapil’s worth would have been worth 25 crores in IPL, if he played in today’s times.

Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil’s teammate in that match

That scorecard tells you how Kapil dominated that day. In the last few overs, we saw Kapil hit some of the biggest sixes we have ever seen in cricket. The ball was flying out of the stadium. Without that innings, our tournament was over. That knock made the World Cup for us.

Roger Binny, Kapil’s teammate in that match

We bought this house after 1983. When the original owner was selling it off, one of his calling card was Kapil Dev’s six hit the roof of this house. He was proud of it.

Jefferey Richards, who had a house just beside this cricket ground. Kapil’s six damaged the roof of this house.

The one thing that really sticks in my mind about that innings is that he didn’t miscue one ball. Everything he went for he hit like a tracer bullet along the ground or like a missile out of the ground. It wasn’t like we dropped him or he had a close shave, he didn’t give a chance.

 Dave Houghton, Zimbabwe‘s wicketkeeper during the match (via BBC ‘Stumped’)

It was one of the greatest innings of all time, but ironically, only 50 others apart from the players saw it, BBC and its strike is to be blamed.


Featured Image:- Bollywood Hungama / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)

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