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Kapil bedevils Zimbabwe

With the 175 that announced India's arrival on the one-day stage

Sambit Bal

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Once Kapil started teeing off, Zimbabwe had no answer © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Kapil Dev
Series/Tournaments: Prudential World Cup

Kapil Dev
175 not out v Zimbabwe, 20th match, 1983

Kapil Dev's India went in to the 1983 World Cup without expectations. They had won only one match, against East Africa, in the previous two editions, losing even to Sri Lanka, who were yet to be granted Test status. Kapil was 24. Few thought, least of all his team-mates, he was fit to be captain. He had been pitch-forked in to the job only four months earlier when India lost a Test series to Pakistan and Sunil Gavaskar had to pay the price. He was gauche, strategically naïve, and was still trying to come to terms with his sudden elevation.

But it was Kapil who kept India's chin up. Against Zimbabwe in the league stage, he bailed India out with a majestic, back-to-wall 175. Never mind that it was against the World Cup debutants, that innings at Tunbridge Wells stands the test of time. It came on a lively pitch that Zimbabwe's bowlers exploited, and against hopeless odds. His team having been reduced to 9 for 4 when he walked in and it soon became 17 for 5. Though his runs came off a mere 138 balls, it was a controlled and calculated innings. Not until reaching his hundred in the 49th did he let himself go, as 75 runs came from his bat in the next 11 overs.

Sambit Bal is the editor of ESPNcricinfo

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