On this day: Kapil Dev special at Tunbridge Wells

In a must-win game of 1983 World Cup against Zimbabwe, India was reeling at 17 for five batting first and then entered skipper Kapil Dev to score a rescue knock of 175 not out.

Kapil Dev plays a shot during his unbeaten knock of 175 at Tunbridge Wells.   -  Getty Images

It was simply the single biggest individual contribution to a team's win in a World Cup. The garden of England, Kent, became Kapil Dev's yard of fame. No praise could be high enough for a stupendous batting effort that took the Indians from the horrendous depths of 17 for five to a total of 266 - India's best in a World Cup - that could not have been imagined as possible once Rawson and Curran exploited a soft pitch and indecisive and weak batting.

Kapil Dev would have been crucified had India tumbled and dropped all its chances in the World Cup. It was a difficult decision to take, that of batting first, but the issue had been pre-determined by India's run rate. The least the early Indian batsmen could have done was to wriggle past the first few overs with minimal loss but in the shambles, Yashpal's nine was the highest score in 17.

Tunbridge Wells old-timers relay what BBC didn't - Kapil's 175  

Considering that the next highest score on the card was Syed Kirmani's 26, Kapil Dev's 175 assumes a dimension almost above human possibility. He achieved it in what was easily the finest innings he has ever played in his remarkable career. Safe play was the first demand. Kapil met it with resolute defence and admirable choice of the ball for the drive.

Delectable flicks and drives: Roger Binny was the first to promise some support. Madan Lal and Kirmani followed suit but this was a one man crusade from the start. When Kapil is meeting them off the meat, there is very little any bowler can do. The tormentors became the tormented soon as Kapil swung into Rawson, Curran and Traicos with a vengeance striking 16 fours with delectable flicks and full-blooded drives.

The action hotted up once Rawson tired. The Nevill ground, with its spread of hospitality tents and rhododendrons, suddenly looked too small as Kapil Dev repeatedly pulled and ondrove for a total of six sixes. His first 50 took him 26 overs, his second 13 and the third just 11. There was a stirring round of applause when Kapil crossed 171 and he turned to ask Barrie Meyer what it was all about. Kapil was briefed about the record of Glenn Turner he had placed in the pale.

Kapil Dev receives the Man of the Match' award from Mike Denness for his unbeaten 175 against Zimbabwe at Tunbridge Wells in 1983 World Cup.   -  THE HINDU PHOTO ARCHIVES


Kapil's innings picked up as the pitch played easier and there was not a semblance of a mishit apart from clean lofts that just failed to clear the fence and tantalisingly out of reach of scrambling deep fielders. Against the most athletic and best allround fielding side, Kapil made his runs. With the scrores juggling their figures, no one knew how many balls Kapil faced for this mammoth effort. At a fair guess, he must have used up 190 to 200 of the 300 that were bowled while he was in, from the start of the 11th over to the final ball.

Crash of wickets: Zimbabwe did not prove a knockover. The task was a little beyond it and half the side had gone for 103. Brown had been too defensive at the start and the others had to hurry. Amidst the crash of wickets, Kevin Curran patiently built an innings that blossomed to such an extent that India's seemingly safe position was threatened. Zimbabwe did not have sufficient wickets to take up the challenge and though Curran batted as solidly as Kapil had without having the same credentials to slam the bowling, Zimbabwe could get only to 32 behind when Kapil caught and bowled the last man to confirm what he had made possible by his own magnificent effort.

The scores:

India 266 for eight in 60 overs (Kapil Dev 175 not out, Rawson three for 47, Curran three for 65) beat Zimbabwe 235 in 57 overs (R. D. Brown 35, K. M. Curran 73, Madan Lal three for 42). Man-of-the-Match: Kapil Dev.

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