On June 18, the Nevill Ground in Tunbridge Wells witnessed one of the most memorable moments in India’s cricket history. Kapil Dev, the Indian captain, put on an epic performance by scoring a magnificent knock of 175 runs against Zimbabwe on the biggest stage of world cricket. No words of praise could be enough for a sublime batting performance that lifted the Indian team from the abysmal depths of 17/4 to a total of 266 runs which was India’s biggest total in a World Cup.
After winning the toss, India chose to bat first on a difficult track. The decision seemed to backfire as the Zimbabwe pace duo of Peter Rawson and Kevin Curran wrecked India’s top order. Within a few overs, India was in shambles as they lost four wickets with just 17 runs on the board. What followed was an extraordinary innings by a captain on a mission. In the initial part of his innings, Kapil showed resilience as he played cautiously and picked the right deliveries to score.
Once the pacers started to tire, Kapil decided to play his shots. As the pitch started to wear out, he unleashed himself. The boundaries of the Neville stadium now seemed small. Kapil scored his first fifty runs in 26 balls, his second in 13 deliveries, and just 11 balls to score his third fifty. While Madan Lal, Syed Kirmani and Roger Binny offered some support, it was a one-man show all throughout the Indian innings.
Kapil Dev showed no signs of tiredness as he kept scoring boundaries at regular intervals. He struck 6 sixes and 14 fours in the course of his innings. As he crossed the 171-run mark the ground erupted with rounds of applause. Kapil was a little surprised to hear the untimely applause of the crowd before he was briefed that he broke Glenn Turner’s record for the highest score in an ODI match.
Kapil Dev finished with an unbeaten knock of 175 runs from 138 deliveries. Given that the next highest score on the card was Syed Kirmani’s 26, Kapil’s 175 seems like an achievement beyond human capabilities. Zimbabwe was bowled out for 235 runs and India managed to secure a place in the semi-final,
The people who were not on the ground could not witness the record-breaking innings of Kapil Dev. The widely held belief for not telecasting the match is that the BBC cameramen were on strike, although others point out that the BBC instead decided to cover the England-Pakistan match, which was being played in Manchester on the same day.
Within a span of seven days, Kapil Dev and the Indian team went on to win the 1983 World Cup after defeating the mighty West Indies.
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