Kapil Dev led India to victory as youngest captain in history | Sunday Observer
World Cup 1983:

Kapil Dev led India to victory as youngest captain in history

9 July, 2023
Indian captain Kapil Dev receiving the World Cup
Indian captain Kapil Dev receiving the World Cup

The 1983 Cricket World Cup was the third edition and took place from June 9 to 25, 1983 in England and Wales. Eight countries participated in the tournament and the matches consisted of 60 overs per innings and were played in traditional white clothing and with red balls, during the day.

Kapil Dev captained the Indian cricket team that won the 1983 Cricket World Cup, and in the process became the first Indian captain to win the Cricket World Cup, and remains the youngest captain ever to lift the Cricket World Cup. He was just 24 years. Dev was named by Wisden as the Indian Cricketer of the Century in 2002.

Dev was a right-arm pace bowler noted for his graceful action and potent out swinger, and was India’s main strike bowler. He developed a fine in swinging yorker during the 1980s, which he used very effectively against tail-enders. As a batsman, he was naturally aggressive player, and helped India in difficult situations.

Nicknamed The Haryana Hurricane, he represented the Haryana cricket team in domestic cricket. He retired in 1994, whilst holding the world record for the highest number of wickets in Test cricket, a record subsequently broken by Courtney Walsh in 2000. At the time, he was also India’s highest wicket-taker in both Tests and ODIs.

Dev is the first player to take 200 ODI wickets. He is the only player to have taken more than 400 wickets (434) and score more than 5,000 runs in Tests. Dev’s all-round performance has been praised by cricketers including Sunil Gavaskar. He was the coach of the Indian national team for a year in 1999/ 2000.

In 1982, he was awarded with the Padma Shri and in 1991 the Padma Bhushan. In 2010, Dev was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame. In 2013, he received the C. K. Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honour conferred by BCCI on a former player.

Dev’s International Career

Dev was born on January 6, 1959 and made his Test cricket debut in Faisalabad, Pakistan on October 16, 1978. He captured his maiden wicket of Sadiq Mohammad with his trademark out swinger. He showcased his all-rounder talent when he scored India’s fastest Test half-century off 33 balls during the 3rd Test at Karachi.

In the series against visiting West Indies, he scored his maiden Test century (126) at Delhi and captured 17 wickets at 33.00. Ominous signs of Dev’s liking for England showed up in the ensuring series, where he picked up his first 5-wicket haul to finish the series with 16 wickets. His debut in ODI Cricket happened in the earlier tour of Pakistan.

Dev established himself as India’s premier fast bowler when he took two 5-wicket hauls against Australia with 28 wickets and also 212 runs. He gained fame in the 6-Test home series against Pakistan in the 1979/80 season when he led India to 2 victories – once with the bat (69) in Bombay and the second with bat and ball (10-wickets in match – 4/90 and 7/56 at 84 runs) at Chennai.

He also became the youngest Test player to achieve the double of 100 Wickets and 1000 Runs in 25 matches and finished the series with 32 wickets and 278 runs. During India’s tour of Australia in 1980/81, when India were 1–0 down and were defending a meagre 143 runs, Dev willed himself to play the final day with pain-killing injections and won the match with 16.4–4–28–5. During the Australian tour, he scored his first fifty in ODIs against New Zealand at Brisbane.

During 1981/82 home series against England, Dev’s5-wicket haul won the first Test at Bombay. He scored 318 runs and took 22 wickets and walked away with the Man of the Series. During 1982 season with England, Dev opened with a 5-wicket haul and 130 runs in a losing cause at Lord’s. He finished the 3-match series with 292 runs and 10 Wickets and bagged the Man of the Series.

Facing Sri Lanka for the first time, Dev helped himself to a 5-wicket haul to kick start the 1982/83 season. The following series with Pakistan saw Dev taking 5/102 in the second Test, 7/220 in the third and 8/85 at the fourth Test.

Dev’s first assignment as regular captain was the tour of West Indies. Dev contributed 72 runs in India’s 282/5 in 47 overs and his 2 wickets aided India to restrict West Indies for 255 and a victory. Overall, Dev had a good series in West Indies as he scored a century to save the second Test as well as picking up 17 wickets.

Dev’s Post World Cup

After the World Cup, India hosted the West Indies and Dev achieved his best test bowling of 9/83 in Ahmedabad. Dev guided India on a Test series win over England in 1986 and was retained as captain for the 1987 World Cup.

In their first match, Australia scored 268 against India. However, after the close of innings, Dev agreed with the umpires that the score should be 270 as one boundary during the innings had been mistakenly signaled. In their reply, India scored 269 falling short of Australia’s score by one run.

In the Wisden Cricketer’s Almanac, it was reported that “Kapil Dev’s sportsmanship proved the deciding factor in a close-run match.” India reached the semi-final of the 1987 World Cup, but lost to England.

Dev became the second bowler to take 400 wickets in Test cricket in 1991/92 when he took Mark Taylor in a series versus Australia. In that Australian tour he took 25 wickets. He was involved in a notable act during the Lord’s Test of 1990, when he hit off-spinner Eddie Hemmings for four sixes in succession to take India past the follow-on target.

He became a valuable batsman in the ODI version, as a pinch-hitter, accelerating the run-scoring rate, in the final ten overs. He played in the 1992 Cricket World Cup, topped the batting with 125.80 and led the bowling as well.

Wisden announced him as one of the sixteen finalists for the Wisden Indian Cricketer of the Century award in 2002. Dev pipped Gavaskar and Tendulkar to win the award and claimed the moment as “my finest hour.”

Dev returned to cricket as a bowling consultant and was the bowling coach in 2004. In 2006, he was nominated the Chairman of National Cricket Academy. In 2008, Dev joined the Indian Territorial Army as an honorary officer and was commissioned as a Lieutenant Colonel. He was appointed as first chancellor of the Sports University of Haryana in 2019.

Dev married Romi Bhatia in 1980 with whom he has a daughter, Amiya Dev, born on January 16, 1996. Dev took up golf in 1993 and was the only Asian founding member of Laureus Foundation in 2000. He has written three autobiographies –“By God’s Decree” in 1985, “Cricket My Style” in 1987 and “Straight from the Heart” in 2004.

World Cup Group Stage

The eight teams at the World Cup 1983 were divided into two groups of four, and each team played others in their group twice. The top two from each group then advanced to the semi-finals, which were played as a single-elimination tournament.

Group A comprised of England, Pakistan, New Zealand and Sri Lanka; while Group B comprised of the West Indies, India, Australia, and the sole qualifier Zimbabwe. Matches took place simultaneously at multiple venues.

In Group A, England started strongly with a 106 run victory over New Zealand at The Oval, scoring an imposing 322/6, driven by a partnership of 115 in 16 overs between Allan Lamb and Mike Gatting. Pakistan also started with a win, by 50 runs over Sri Lanka, after scoring 338/5 in 60 overs. England’s second group match brought a second win, as David Gower’s 130, powered a 47-run win over Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, New Zealand beat Pakistan by 52 runs despite Abdul Qadir’s 4/21. England then beat Pakistan by 8 wickets at Lord’s, while Richard Hadlee’s 5/25 saw Sri Lanka bowled out for 206. England’s only defeat came against New Zealand, off the penultimate ball of the innings. Pakistan triumphed over Sri Lanka, with Abdul Qadir claiming 5/44.

The fifth round of matches on June 18, saw England seal their place in the semi-final, with a first wicket partnership of 115 between Graeme Fowler and Chris Tavare alone scoring nearly half of Pakistan’s 232. Meanwhile, New Zealand failed to secure passage to the knockout stage, losing to Sri Lanka in a low scoring match.

In the final round of matches, England beat Sri Lanka by 9 wickets. The match between New Zealand and Pakistan would decide the second qualifier. An eleven run victory for Pakistan proved sufficient, as Zaheer Abbas made an unbeaten 103 before New Zealand were bowled out.

Group B started with the first shock, as Zimbabwe beat Australia. Duncan Fletcher led the way, making 69 not out and being awarded Man of the Match. In the other opening match, India delivered another “shocker” as they beat the reigning champions West Indies by 34 runs, bowling them out for 228 – the first defeat suffered by the West Indies in a World Cup, riding on Yashpal Sharma (89), Roger Binny and Ravi Shastri (3 wickets each).

In the second round, West Indies scored 252/9, against Australia; in response, Australia were bowled out for 151. India comfortably beat Zimbabwe by 5 wickets in the contemporaneous fixture.

Two days later, Australia thrashed India by 162 runs, with Man of the Match Trevor Chappell scoring 110 and Ken MacLeay taking 6/39, despite Dev’s best career figures of 5/43. In the other match, West Indies restricted Zimbabwe to just 217/7, and then romped home with a partnership of 195 for the third wicket between Gordon Greenidge and Larry Gomes.

In the first of the return fixtures, the West Indies overcame India by 66 runs, with Viv Richards making a glorious 119. Australia beat Zimbabwe by 32 runs to level their account in the tournament.

The India versus Zimbabwe match on June 18, was described by Wisden as “a remarkable match (which) contained one of the most spectacular innings played in ODI form of cricket,” as Kapil Dev coming in to bat with India struggling at 9/4, that soon became 17/5, went on to score 175 not out (138 balls, 16 boundaries and 6 sixes), from India’s score of 266/8, which Zimbabwe narrowly failed to chase down, India winning by 31 runs. Dev scored his century off 72 balls. Together with Kirmani (24 runs), Dev put on an unbeaten 126 runs for the 9th wicket – a world record that stood for 27 years.

West Indies qualified for the semi-finals, beating Australia by 7 wickets. That left West Indies versus Zimbabwe as a dead rubber, and West Indies duly won by ten wickets with nearly fifteen overs to spare.

The final group B match was a straightforward tussle for qualification between Australia and India. However, after India had made 247 all out, in a team effort where the highest score was 40, Australia collapsed to 129, with Madan Lal and Roger Binny taking four wickets each.

World Cup Semi Finals

In the first semi-final, at Old Trafford, England won the toss and elected to bat. The English batsmen mistimed many balls and used the bat’s edge frequently, as the restrictive Indian bowling led England to score 213. Graeme Fowler (33) top scored, and Kapil Dev took 3 for 35 in eleven overs, with Mohinder Amarnath and Roger Binny taking two wickets each.

In reply, Yashpal Sharma (61) and Sandeep Patil (51) made half-centuries, as India reached their target in 54.4 overs, winning by 6 wickets in a classic victory. Mohinder Amarnath picked up the Man of the Match award for his all-round performance, which saw him add 46 runs to his earlier bowling success of 2/27 in 12 overs.

The second semi-final, between Pakistan and the West Indies, was staged at The Oval. West Indies invited Pakistan to bat and restricted to 184/8 in 60 overs. Mohsin Khan (70) fought his way past 50 against the formidable West Indies bowling attack (he was the only Pakistani batsman to reach 50). Malcolm Marshall (3/28) and Andy Roberts (2/25) starred with the ball.

The West Indies innings was based around a superb innings by Viv Richards (80 from 96 balls, 11 fours, 1 six), who took the Man of the Match award, and an unbeaten half-century by Larry Gomes (50 from 100 balls, 3 fours), as the defending champions reached their target for the loss of just two wickets.

World Cup Final

In the final, India lost the toss and were asked to bat first against the West Indies. Only Krishnamachari Srikkanth (38 from 57 balls) and Mohinder Amarnath (26 from 80 balls) put up any significant resistance as Roberts, Marshall, Joel Garner and Michael Holding ripped through the Indian batsmen, ably supported by Gomes. Surprising resistance by the tail allowed India to compile 183 in 54.4 overs.

The Indian bowling exploited the weather and pitch conditions perfectly to bowl out the West Indies for 140 from 52 overs, winning by 43 runs and completing one of the most stunning upsets in cricket history. It still remains the lowest ever total successfully defended in a World Cup final. Amarnath and Madan Lal each took three wickets. Viv Richards was West Indies’ top scorer with 33 from 28 balls.

Amarnath was the most economical bowler, taking 3 wickets in his 7 overs conceding just 12 runs, and was once again awarded the Man of the Match award for his all-round performance. Kapil Dev admirably led with 303 runs (Average: 60.6), 12 wickets (Average: 20.41) and 7 catches in 8 matches. This moment inspired several cricketers all over India, including Sachin Tendulkar.

Indian squad: Kapil Dev (captain), Mohinder Amarnath (vice captain), Kirti Azad, Roger Binny, Sunil Gavaskar, Syed Kirmani (wk), Madan Lal, Sandip Patil, Balwinder Sandhu, Yashpal Sharma, Ravi Shastri, Krishnamachari Srikkanth, Sunil Valson, DilipVengsarkar and PR Man Singh (Manager).

Best Performances at World Cup

David Gower of England was the highest scorer with 384 runs from 7 matches. Viv Richards of the West Indies came a close second with 367 runs. In the third place was Graeme Fowler from England who managed 360 runs from 7 matches. Zaheer Abbas of Pakistan and Kapil Dev of India also chipped in with valuable 313 and 303 runs respectively.

The most outstanding among the bowlers was Roger Binny from India with 18 wickets from 8 matches. Sri Lanka’s Asantha de Mel and India’s Madan Lal took 17 wickets each. They were followed by Richard Hadlee of New Zealand with 14 wickets and Vic Marks of England with 13 wickets.

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