Former captain Kapil Dev said he feels proud to have led India to their 1983 World Cup triumph as it was a critical moment for cricket in the country. During a chat with Indian women’s cricket team coach WV Raman on his YouTube series named Inside Out, the legendary cricketer opened up on a range of topics.
Dev helped India create history in 1983, as they won the ICC Cricket World Cup for the first time, beating favourites and two-time winners West Indies to lift the trophy. The former all-rounder said the victory not only instilled belief among Indian players to win titles but also increased the popularity of cricket in smaller cities and regions in India.
The 61-year-old spoke on a wide range of subjects including captaining the Indian side during the 1983 World Cup, his unbeaten hundred against Zimbabwe, his favourite captains of all-time and more.
Excerpts from the chat:
On his 175* against Zimbabwe in 1983 World Cup:
When you are 9/4, you are shattered from inside but since I came from a Punjabi background I had the desire to fight. I went and asked Yashpal Sharma, ‘what’s happening?’ He said, ‘nothing, the ball is moving and we are getting caught behind.’ Soon, even Yashpal was dismissed. Then Roger [Binny] came in. I said to him, ‘let’s not go for runs but stay on the wicket. We will get runs.’ And then we got a good partnership. The 175* against Zimbabwe [was only possible in the last seven overs], before that we were scared... in the sense, we didn’t want to embarrass ourselves. We beat Australia, West Indies and were feeling on top of the world and then suddenly we were in this situation against Zimbabwe. When you plan something, you should always have a plan A.
Plan B and C is an option for those who are weak. In my life, I always had a plan A and that was to win. God was kind also [that day]. But the last seven overs with [Syed] Kirmani, he said to me, ‘Kapil pa, if there’s a chance we have to get run-out, you save your wicket.’ That gave me the strength of team spirit. And the rest is history. We got almost 100 runs in the last seven overs. It was like God had created that day for me.
Winning the 1983 World Cup:
There are few things in life that come your way and become the turning point. [Winning the World Cup] was important but also a critical moment for Indian cricket. So many years after winning the World Cup, I feel we have done well. If you had asked me back then, I would have said it’s fine. Yes, we went there and people didn’t give us a chance but after that [win], things started changing [in Indian cricket], players started believing in themselves and you feel proud about that and your team as well.
We had no egos in the team. I wasn’t the most senior cricketer but when things are working against you, seniors also would come and give us advice. Usually, seniors are aloof when situations are tough. Mohinder Amarnath, Sunil Gavaskar, Kirmani, Madan Lal – these seniors were the ones we used to watch playing while in school and suddenly playing with them and becoming teammates, I didn’t know how to treat and talk to them. It was a difficult time [for me] but the seniors felt they were a part of the team and we helped each other. And that was the turning point, not winning. The team spirit increased during the World Cup. First, cricket was only played in Mumbai, Chennai or Bengal and a little bit in Delhi but after that win, cricket spread to small cities in India. That was the strength of winning the World Cup.
His favourite captains of all-time:
A captain is good when you find your team isn’t on top in terms of performance and you lift the entire team. In my mind, Sunil [Gavaskar] was excellent but he played at a wrong time. He was intelligent but didn’t have resources with him when he became captain. So looking at that, I feel he was a good captain. [Arjuna] Ranatunga with a small Sri Lanka team, he became a world champion and gave them so much confidence.
Sourav Ganguly, when he took over captaincy, he worked with the players, gave them confidence and when you have players of that caliber like Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, [Javagal] Srinath, Yuvraj Singh... to put them together and create heroes from that. I feel Sourav has done a lot of good things for Indian cricket because at that time the situation wasn’t that nice. The players were good but he gave them that confidence. I must also mention that Sourav had an advantage as [Jagmohan] Dalmiya was [BCCI] president. He could get things [done]. During my time, we didn’t receive that same cooperation from the board.
So, Sourav and Ranatunga have done extremely well. [Mahendra Singh] Dhoni is calm, cool but I still say, if Sunil [Gavaskar] had this team, he would have done well.
Watch the full video here: