Gavaskar has stated in the past that this innings not just changed the face of the match against Zimbabwe at Tunbridge Wells, but changed the game itself, and with it, Indian cricket forever.
India were shaken early by Zimbabwe’s pace attack, and were reeling at 9/4. That quickly changed to 17/5. At this stage, they were well on their journey back home from the 1983 World Cup.
Or so it seemed.
Destiny had other things in store, when Kapil Dev walked to the crease.
The 1983 World Cup Final has been written about, spoken about and remembered as one of the greatest sporting achievements in Indian history. It was a quintessential David Vs Goliath tale, with the mighty West Indies falling to an inspired Indian team, a team Gavaskar said, then started ‘to believe.’
That belief set in on Kapil Dev’s men when the skippet himself scripted an unforgettable knock at the Turnbridge Wells ground against Zimbabwe on June 18, 1983.
Unfortunately for the Indian cricket fans, this game-changing innings was not to be remembered on classic innings packages, because the it was never recorded on camera owing to a nation-wide strike by sole broadcasters BBC.
The legendary captain walked in to bat Sunil Gavaskar and Kris Srikkanth were back in the pavillion with no runs to their names.
Kapil walked in and turned it around, all guns blazing from ball one, which took both spectators and the eleven Zimbabweans on the field by surprise.
Peter Rawson, the Zimbabwe pacer who accounted for the wickets of Sunil Gavaskar (0), Mohinder Amarnath (5) and Yashpal Sharma (9) to finish with figures of 3/47, said that he knew Kapil Dev was going to turn out something special in his innings, once the Indian captain got going.
‘Kapil was in great form and took the fight to us… We had never seen what Kapil was capable of and were taken by surprise, and by the time we realised what was happening, the track had settled a bit, and he was in and swinging,’ Rawson told Sportstar.
Kapil smashed 175 off just 138 balls with six sixes and 16 fours – his top-score in ODIs as India managed to score 266/8, the next highest score being Syed Kirmani’s 24, to give you an idea of Dev’s heroics.
Zimbabwe were bowled out for 235 in 57 overs, with Kapil picking up 1/32 in 11 overs and taking a crucial catch. Clearly he wasn’t done for the day at the end of his legendary innings.