Kapil Dev Biography | Career, Achievements, Awards

About Kapil Dev

Kapil Dev, born Kapil Dev Nikhanj, is a former Indian Cricketer, national team captain and national cricket coach. He is famous for lasting contributions to the sport in India, as well as being the first bowler in his style to receive worldwide recognition for fast bowling.

At the time of his retirement in 1994, he held the world record for most wickets taken in Test, and the first player to take 200 wickets in ODI cricket. He also has a place in the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.

Early Life of Kapil Dev

Kapil Dev was born on 6 January 1959. His parents are Ram Lal Nikhanj and Raj Kumari Ram Lal Nikhanj. His father Ram was a successful and well-known timber merchant in Chandigarh, where Kapil was born.

Dev attended Dayanand Anglo-Vedic Public School. In 1971, he became a part of Desh Prem Azad.

Early Domestic Cricket Career of Kapil Dev

In late 1975, Dev debuted for the domestic cricket team Haryana, also the team of his state, to resounding success. In his debut match he helped the team towards victory thanks to an impressive 06 wicket haul. He stuck with Haryana from ’76-’77 Ranji Trophy season till the ’90-’91 season.

Kapil Dev

International Cricket

In October of 1978, Dev made his debut for Test cricket. He struck his maiden Test century only one Test series later, against the West Indies. He scored 126 in 124 balls, plus showcased decent bowling.

His debut for ODI cricket was also in the same year, in Pakistan. Off of 12 deliveries, he scored 13 not out. He also picked up a wicket for 27 runs. All in all, his maiden Test and ODI matches were merely a showcase for his bowling and batting potential. At the time, he was regarded as the only genuine- and, in most opinions, premiere- fast bowler for India, making him a curiosity and an instant star. This was made absolutely clear in one of the best and most famous matches of his career: a home series against Australia, where he batted 212 runs which indluded a half century, and took 2 5-wicket hauls. This performance landed a win for India and established him as an Indian force to be reckoned with.

Another strike in his favour was his performance in the 6-series home Tests, where in the ’79-’80 season he helped India beat Pakistan twice. Dev himself considers his personal performance in the match at Chepauk, Madras to be his career-best. His second innings figure was 7/56, plus at the time he was the youngest Test cricketer to complete both 100 Wickets and 1000 Runs in only 25 matches. He finished the series off with 278 runs (including two fifties) and 32 wickets. All in all, a very impressive match.

One of the best bowling performance of his career followed during a ’80-’81 tour series of Australia. Dev also suffered a minor groin injury during this series, and was essentially ruled out after only 143 runs. However, with Australia boasting an impressive 18/3 on the fourth day of the series, Dev was determined to help India to overcome Australia and go on to victory. With the help of some powerful painkillers administered via injection, he played the final day, and won the match for India. He had a performance of 16.4-4-28-5. This was the performance that made it into the top five bowling performances of his career. To this day he claims to be tremendously proud of his performance that day, despite being hopped up on painkillers the entire match. It was a miraculous feat and one that India had never seen and will likely not see again.

Dev scored his first ODI fifty on this same Australia tour, against New Zealand. Surprisingly, Dev continued the rest of his career this way, with spectacular Test performances but uneven ODI runs.

Cast in point was a ’81-’82 home Test series against England. He again impressed the cricket world with a five-wicket haul in the first match won India a victory. His overall score was 318 runs on an average of 53, including 1 century and 1 fifty. In the same match, he also took 2 5-wicket hauls, with a total of 22 wicket in all. He was awarded the Man of the Series for his performance in this home series, for very good reason.

Team Captain and the 1983 World Cup

His captaincy debut occurred in the ’82-83 season, where India battled Sri Lanka and former captain Gavaskar was rested after a dismal tour of Pakistan previous. His maiden match as captain was on a West Indies tour. India’s performance on the tour was mainly flat, aside from one ODI victory where Dev teamed up with Gavaskar to an immense score of 282/5 in 47 overs. Dev’s total score was 72, while Gavaskar beat him slightly with a score of 90.

The 1983 Cricket World Cup was an interesting one for the India team. The team beat Zimbabwe but lost to Australia and West Indies, respectively, in the following two matches. In the following round, India needed to beat Australia and Zimbabwe in order to move on to the semifinals.

This is where Dev made history again: on 18 June 1983, India met Zimbabwe on the ground of Nevill Ground, Royal Tunbridge Wells. On this day, Dev (with Kirmani) put on a formidable 126 runs for 9th wicket, putting him in the world records for such a feat (this record stood unchallenged for 27 years). Dev finished with 175 runs not out off of 138 balls, a stunning figure that remains in the ODI Hall of Fame in the Top 10 Batting Performances. After essentially winning the match by himself, Dev showed his captaincy style to be a lot more show than tell, leading his teammates by example rather than by textbook strategy.

Despite this incredible historic performance, however, Dev struggled post-World Cup and lost the captaincy, again to Gavaskar. However, in a strange turn of events he was reappointed almost exactly a year later, and led India to victory against England shortly after.

During this period, he led the team in a famous Tied Test series against Australia. For his performance in the series, he was named Man of the Match- an award he shared with batsman Dean Jones, for Australia.

He kept his leadership position of the team for the ’87 World Cup, where India would have won a match against Australia if not for some serious fair sportsmanship on Dev’s side, as he noted a mistake in signaling that added up two points less than it should have for Australia. At the end, India lost to Australia with only one run short—meaning that, had Dev not pushed for fairness, India would have won the match. India reached the semi-final of the Cup, but unfortunately lost to England. This was the last World Cup that India would play with Dev at the helm.

Retirement of Kapil Dev

Although being demoted from captain, Dev stayed on as lead pace bowler for the next few seasons. One of his most famous performances occurred during this final period of his career, in fact, during the Lord’s Test Match in 1990. During this game, he hit England off-spinner Hemmings for four consecutive sixes.

During this period, he also became the second cricketer in history to claim 400 wickets. He then went on to take first place in 1994, beating the previous record of 431 (Richard Hadlee).

Kapil Dev officially retired from cricket in 1994. He continued on in the sport as a coach of the India national team from October 1999 untill August of the following year. His time in the position was short-lived with only 10 months on the calendar before his official departure. In 1999 he was involved in a scandal, where he was accused of match-fixing in a nation-wide controversy. This was the main reason that he had to quit his position as India coach. He was eventually cleared of all charges held against him.

This small setback did not seem to negatively affect his career too much, as he was later appointed chairman of the National Cricket Academy in India. Again, he may have lasted long in this position of leadership, but it also only lasted about a year. This time, it was because he simultaneously became a part of a privately-funded league called India Cricket League. This lead to him being forced out of his executive position at the Academy. His decided to leave the India Cricket League in 2012, and received a position on the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

Awards of Kapil Dev

  • For an incredible and historic performance over the course of his cricket career, Kapil Dev has received the Padma Shri award (in 1982) and the Padma Bhushan award (1991).
  • He was named Indian Cricketer of the Century in 2002.
  • In 2009, the International Cricket Council’s Hall of Fame inducted him into their hallowed halls, so that he may never be forgotten.

Personal Life

Kapil Dev married his wife Romi Bhatia in 1980. Together, they have one daughter. Her name is Amiya Dev, and she was born on 16 January, 1996.

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