Ghavri, Kulkarni salute ‘great’ Kapil Dev

At a Legends Club function at the Cricket Club of India, Karsan Ghavri and Raju Kulkarni paid wholehearted encomiums to Kapil Dev, who turned 59 on January 6.

Kapil Dev was a “champion bowler and a masterpiece,” says Karsan Ghavri.   -  S. Kothandaraman

Kapil Dev and left-arm seamer Karsan Ghavri still remain India’s best new-ball pair, having captured 183 wickets in 27 Tests at 30.26. In a partnership that began November, 1978, the duo sent down 10,962 balls. The 'Haryana Express' developed alliances with other new-ball bowlers too - Manoj Prabhakar (the two accounted for 176 wickets in 31 Tests) and Madan Lal (119 wickets in 20 Tests) - en route to a career tally of 434 wickets in 131 Tests at 29.65.

Celebrating his 59th birthday (on January 6), Kapil’s contemporaries saluted him for his services to Indian cricket. At a Legends Club function at the old Card Room, Cricket Club of India (CCI), guest speakers Ghavri and Raju Kulkarni paid wholehearted and lavish encomiums to a cricketer who plied his trade in the rustic outbacks of Haryana and grounds across India and the world.

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Ghavri, who had made a career move from Saurashtra to Bombay before achieving the big breakthrough in the Indian team, called Kapil a “great athlete” and a “great sportsman.” He said, “Kapil set a great standard for Indian cricket. He played all his cricket by instinct, he never planned anything on his own. Playing for Rest of India in the Irani Cup against Karnataka in 1978, he hammered Chandra and Prasanna (62 not out) and that’s how he was selected for the Indian team for the tour of Pakistan. He was a great athlete, a great sportsman and a super cricketer.

Ajit Wadekar (left), Raju Kulkarni (centre) and Karsan Ghavri at the function held at the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai. Photo: Special Arrangement


“He did not concentrate on his batting much; if he had, he would have scored a couple of thousand runs more. He was a top-class swing bowler; he was never express fast like Dennis Lillee or Michael Holding, but he was a master in his trade. Kapil was a champion bowler and a masterpiece. It’s very hard to get a cricketer like him.”

                              Hardik nowhere near Kapil, says Ghavri

Karsan Ghavri, a fine exponent of left-arm seam bowling, believes Kapil Dev has been modest in saying that Hardik Pandya is a better all-rounder than him.

“My view is that Hardik is nowhere near Kapil right now. Even if he (Hardik) has to reach Kapil’s heights, he has a long, long way to go. It’s a very difficult comparison. But time will tell in a few years time as to how far can Hardik go in terms of Kapil’s achievements.’’

‘Absolutely electrifying’

Raju Kulkarni, who played three Test matches in the 1986-87 season against Australia and Pakistan said: “Kapil’s heroics on the cricket field are well known, exemplary and absolutely electrifying. He made full of his natural ability and talent. He took pride to play for India and that was his greatness. His bowling action and run-up that was silken smooth, his destructive batting and outstanding fielding will be remembered at all times.

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“In the pre-Kapil days, Indian cricket was dominated by spinners and spinning tracks. Kapil changed all that. In cricket they say, you never talk about Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev and Sachin Tendulkar’s cricket because you can never measure their abilities. He was an amazing cricketer, amazing all-rounder and a very down to earth person. His sole aim was to perform on the cricket field. Today’s bowlers have everything, but what about their fitness? Kapil would go on and on and nothing would happen to him. He was like an elastic. Kapil also knew how to defuse tense and anxious situations.”

Legends Club vice-president Ajit Wadekar was cricket manager of the Indian team when Kapil Dev was the captain. He said: “There is no doubt he was a great bowler. He not only swung the ball both ways, he cut them too. He was always on the spot.”

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