Cricinfo / Standard Chartered - special feature

Kapil Dev - leading by creativity



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India's situation could hardly have been more desperate. In the early stages of the 1983 World Cup, at the sleepy English venue of Tunbridge Wells, the lowly bowlers of Zimbabwe had ripped through their exalted opposition.

India were 9 for 4 when their captain Kapil Dev came to the crease. That soon became 17 for 5, and elimination from the tournament seemed only a matter of time.

Kapil, however, had other ideas. In the next couple of hours, the match was turned on its head, as blow followed furious blow, and Zimbabwe were put emphatically back in their place.

Kapil's unbeaten 175 - out of a total of 266 - secured a comfortable victory, but more importantly, it demonstrated to his team what they could achieve in the face of adversity. A week later, the mighty West Indies were rolled over in the final, and India became the champions of the world.

Creativity was at the core of Kapil's breathtaking abilities with bat and ball, and on occasions such as this, he enabled his team to touch unprecedented heights. He provided leadership that transcended mere tactics - and after carrying India's fast-bowling hopes throughout his career, in 1991-92 he overtook Richard Hadlee as the world's leading wicket-taker in Tests.

It was a testament to his longevity as well as his undoubted skills, especially as he achieved the bulk of his success on India's spin-friendly wickets. And all the while, his bombastic batting reminded his team of the powers of positive thinking.

Perhaps the most memorable example of this came against England at Lord's in 1990, when, with only the No. 11 for company, he struck four consecutive sixes to save the follow-on.

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