CWC Greatest Moments – World Cup History – When Kapil Dev’s solo innings in 1983 wasn’t televised

There are always a few moments that change the course of the future in a big way. In the world of cricket, similar historic moments happen that change the character of a team forever. If we talk about the Indian cricket team, people have a lot of different moments which they think are the turning points in their cricket history. The 2001 Kolkata Test match win after playing through follow-on, the famous Natwest ODI series win against England in 2002 and Dhoni hitting the six to win the 2011 World Cup win are some of the top moments that people remember.

However, the true cricket fans who have witnessed decades of cricket know that nothing can top the 1983 World Cup win in Indian cricket history. India defeating West Indies, two-time World Champions and the favourites to win a hat-trick of world cups, was surely one of the best moments. However, we are not going to talk about this final match and instead about the one innings that made everything possible at the end. Kapil Dev’s 175 not-out against Zimbabwe in a must-win match to enter the semi-finals.

It is a sad thing that back then only high-profile matches were televised and India and Zimbabwe both being minnows in the tournament, the match was not televised. In this must win-match against Zimbabwe, India won the toss and chose to bat. The team started off in the worst possible manner, losing the great Sunil Gavaskar in the first over itself. It soon led to a batting collapse with India reeling at 17/5 when the captain of the team, Kapil Dev Walked in.

Indian cricket captain Kapil Dev during his record innings of 175 not out off 138 balls against Zimbabwe in the Cricket World Cup at Nevill Ground, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, 18th June 1983. India won the match by 31 runs and later won the tournament. (Photo by Trevor Jones/Getty Images)

In an innings that Gavaskar considers as the greatest ODI innings he has seen in his life, Kapil Dev started cautiously, hitting not a single ball in the air until he reached 80. A natural stroke-player, Kapil Dev had to curb his instincts to first take the team to a somewhat respectable score. Once he did that, he batted freely and started hitting the towering sixes he was known for. Batting with the tail, Kapil Dev, hit 16 boundaries and 6 sixes in this outstanding knock.

He single-handedly took the team total to an above-par score of 266/8 in the allotted 60 overs. He then bowled superbly, not allowing the Zimbabweans to get a great start. India won the match by 31 runs, with the skipper bowling a great spell with the new ball to help restrict the Zimbabwe team to 235. To everyone’s dismay including Kapil Dev himself, the match was not televised. However, in a surprising turn of events, one man had recorded the match on his camcorder, which Kapil Dev later bought from him for a big price.

What makes this innings such a historic moment in Indian cricket is because one man exhibited the nerves and mettle to show the world that nothing is impossible. He led from the front in this match, which later turned out to be the crucial moment in injecting the Indian team with the confidence to go ahead and perform on the biggest stage and against the best team to lift the World Cup for the first time.

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