The Best I've Watched

Writers on the best day, session or passage of play they've seen live

Pakistan v India, 5th Test, Lahore, 1983

Curve it like Kapil

So what if the series was lost: one man was stoked enough to take eight in the innings - and end Majid Khan's career in the process

Ayaz Memon

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Kapil Dev in action, 1989
Swing it to win it © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Kapil Dev
Series/Tournaments: India in Pakistan Test Series
Teams: India

The best passage of play I have seen? Hmm, that's a mighty challenge considering the first international game I saw was way back in 1964, when Australia toured India.

Having mulled deep and long over possibilities arising from Kapil Dev's whirlwind 175 at Tunbridge Wells in 1983, Javed Miandad's 116 (including the memorable last-ball six) in Sharjah in 1986, Sunil Gavaskar's gut-wrenching 96 against Pakistan in Bangalore in 1987, Sachin Tendulkar's sparkling 114 on a Perth flier in 1992 and VVS Laxman's epic 281 in Kolkata, I have finally settled on Kapil Dev's opening spell against Pakistan in Lahore in 1983.

This was the fifth Test and the series had already been lost, but that did not dampen Kapil's spirits. On an overcast, wintry January morning, he bowled with sublime skill. Working up good pace, his line and length impeccable, he got such pronounced swing as to be virtually unplayable, finishing with 8 for 85 in the innings.

The opening spell was, of course, the piece de resistance of his bowling in the match. Mohsin Khan scratched around for 30 balls to score 7 before Kapil ended his agony. But the high point came when he attacked Majid Khan, batting one-down.

The stylish Pakistani, making a comeback, could barely put bat to ball as Kapil's late outswingers had him groping at each delivery. It was staggering to see a maestro who had earned renown for his batting against the new ball struggle so badly. Looked at another way, it showed how brilliant Kapil was that morning.

Majid's agony was finally ended when he edged Kapil to Syed Kirmani, failing to score. Majid never played for Pakistan again, and the story goes that he and Imran Khan have not spoken since.

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