1983 World Cup: When BBC missed Kapil Dev's 'surgical strike' on Zimbabwe

Kapil Dev's match-changing — and tournament-defining 175 against Zimbabwe in the 1983 World Cup had no video coverage because the West Indies was playing Australia on that day and all the equipment had gone there. The BBC was also on strike and missed the whirlwind knock.

Kapil Dev, 175 not out, 138 balls, 16 fours and six sixes, carried India to 266 for 8 with the plucky Syed Kirmani keeping him company.   -  Getty Images

Skipper Kapil Dev won the toss and was batting! Yes, literally, with his team reduced to 9 for 4 in a league match of the 1983 World Cup.

Against whom? A combined Australia-West Indies side?

Well, this was against debutant Zimbabwe at a cricket backwater called Tunbridge Wells.

Kapil was taking a shower after winning the toss and electing to bat when one of his teammates knocked on the bathroom door... “Skip, two wickets are down,” was the message. Almost immediately came the news of a third batsman's downfall!

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Kapil had to cut short his dalliance with the shower as he was in next wicket down! That too fell soon enough and Kapil was in the middle wondering whether he should have bowled first!

The Zimbabwean quicks, Peter Rawson and Kevin Curran, were wreaking havoc and soon the fifth wicket too fell with the total reading 17! The vanquished list read Sunil Gavaskar, Krishnamachari Srikkanth, Mohinder Amarnath, Sandeep Patil and Yashpal Sharma. This was not only the loss of cream, but a good portion of milk in the vessel as well!

If Kapil was thinking about how to resurrect the innings, the organisers had other apprehensions...about the lunch ordered going waste as the match looked like finishing in double-quick time.

Roger Binny walked in and helped Kapil add 60 runs for the sixth wicket... India 77 for 6. Ravi Shastri came and went... India 78 for 7.

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Madan Lal was the next man in and he tried to play it like Binny, to keep one end up and to let Kapil fire away. Madan was also highly appreciative of Kapil’s attitude... The captain firmly believed that this match could be turned around!

The organisers were relieved as lunch was taken after 35 overs with India at 110 for 7!

Kapil’s teammates kept away from him at the break, maybe afraid of his wrath or maybe to allow the captain to retain his cocoon of concentration.

Madan perished at 140 and ’keeper Kirmani came out. Kapil told Kiri that they should play the entire 60 overs and the keeper did as instructed. “It was Diwali out there,” said Kiri as Kapil got stuck into the Zimbabwe bowling.

Kapil, 175 not out, 138 balls, 16 fours and six sixes, carried India to 266 for 8 with the plucky Kirmani keeping him company.

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The match was played on a pitch at the edge of the square and this gave the ground a lop-sided dimension. Kapil took advantage of the shorter side to score his fours and the larger one to convert singles into twos and twos into threes!

All his sixes were wind-powered! He hit them straight from the end where the wind was behind him and blowing down the ground. After his hundred he changed his bat – this had tapered shoulders – to hit more fluently.

Such an astonishing innings had no video coverage because the West Indies was playing Australia on that day and all the equipment had gone there. The BBC was also on strike and missed Kapil’s ‘surgical strike.’

India had to win this game to make the semifinals and Kapil ensured that as his team restricted Zimbabwe to 235.

Gavaskar was so overwhelmed by the innings that he declared that this was the finest One-Day innings he had seen. And he maintains it to this day. Gavaskar, as we all know, knows his cricket! He was one opener who knew where his off-stump was pitched!