Birthday special: Kapil Dev – The fast-bowling all-rounder India still yearns for

Kapil Dev, India’s best pace all-rounder till date, will always be remembered in the annals of Indian cricket history as the captain who played a pioneering role in transforming the course of Indian cricket. Kapil is hailed as the most celebrated Indian captain for leading India to their first-ever World Cup title in 1983.

Making his First-Class debut for Haryana, Kapil impressed everyone with his lethal out-swinging deliveries and ability of batting in the lower middle-order. In 275 first-class games, the all-rounder scored 11,356 runs and took 835 wickets while in 309 List A games, he had 5,461 runs and 335 wickets to his name. The all-rounder quickly rose through the ranks and played his first international match for India against Pakistan, at the age of 19.

Though the all-rounder had an unimpressive debut on the big stage, with the passage of time, he proved himself as a prominent member of the Indian cricket team. The steady performance with the ball and the useful contributions with the bat made him a regular feature in the Indian side and a good candidate for leadership.

Career highlights

In the 1982-83 season, Kapil Dev replaced Sunil Gavaskar as Indian captain and was given the responsibility of leading the team in the 1983 World Cup. India started their campaign in the marquee event defeating the mighty West Indies followed by a comprehensive victory against Zimbabwe. Continuing their domination, India became the World Champions after defeating the West Indies again in the low-scoring final at Lord’s. The World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev became a household name.

However, after that, the world saw a dip in Kapil’s form as a batsman and captain as India lost the 1987 World Cup at home. India had to face a defeat against Australia in the semi-finals as Dev held himself responsible for the loss and never captained the Indian cricket team again. However, he continued his stint as the fast bowler for the Men in Blue until he retired in 1994 as Test cricket’s highest wicket-taker.

The lanky all-rounder finished his golden period in Indian cricket with 5284 runs and 434 scalps in 131 Test matches. His exploits continued in the One Day Internationals too as in 225 fixtures he amassed 3,783 runs and took 253 wickets while maintaining an economy of 3.71. He still holds the unique record of having scored more than 4000 runs in Test cricket while taking 400 wickets.

The former Indian captain turns 63-year-old today and will always be remembered for winning the first-ever World Cup for India.