Kapil Dev was the greatest pace bowler India has produced and India’s greatest fast-bowling all-rounder. Such was the charisma of this man that at one point of time he became the highest wicket taker in test and one-day cricket. Along with Imran Khan, Ian Botham and Richard Hadlee, Kapil Dev is considered the greatest all-rounder of his times.
Kapildev Ramlal Nikhanj was born on January 6, 1959 at Chandigarh. Kapil's passion for the game was initially noticed by his family and they encouraged him to take up the game seriously. Kapil was 14 when he started playing for the DAV school. He started his cricketing lessons under DeshPrem Azad. Kapil was a regular visitor to the inter-sector cricket matches held in Chandigarh. One Sunday, the Sector 16 team fell short of one player and Kapil, who was there to watch the match was taken in as a replacement. The sector 16 cricket team had three players who had played Ranji Trophy cricket for Haryana. They were impressed by the young boy's talent and thus Kapil became a regular member of the team.
Kapil Dev made his first class debut in November 1975 at the age of 17. He did a splendid performance taking 6 wickets for just 39 runs. There was no looking back after that. In the next few matches, Kapil destroyed the opposition with his lethal deliveries. The day was not far off when Kapil would make it to the Indian team. That special day came in 1978, at Faisalabad, against Pakistan. He could not make big impression but the series saw the emergence of Kapil Dev as a talented all-rounder. When Kapil was 20, he set a new record of 1000 runs and 100 wickets within a period of one year and 109 days.
On many occasions, he single-handedly won matches for India and became the most popular pin-up boy of India. His 434 wickets in test cricket is considered one of the greatest achievements for an Indian fast bowler.
As captain, Kapil Dev marshaled the team to the most famous victory in the cricket world cup of 1983. He jelled the team together and also played the most memorable knock, in the history of the world cup cricket, against Zimbabwe. Kapil came to bat when India were almost out of the match at 17/5. He then played and robbed the match from the opposition. He was named the Wisden International Cricketer of the Year in 1983.
Throughout his career,Kapil Dev saved the team from impossible situations and contributed to the cause of the team with both bat and the ball. In one such occasion, he hit four consecutive sixes off the bowling of Eddie Hemmings (England) in 1990 to save India from follow on. Kapil Dev's super human match winning effort with the ballis still remembered with awe and respectas seen in the Melbourne Test of 1980 against Australia, in which he bowled non-stop for 3 hours to bowl out Australia after taking painkilling injections for a worn out hamstring and a pulled groin muscle.
Kapil remained took to golfing and stayed away from the game for some time after retirement. He later became the coach of the Indian Cricket team in 1999. As a token of respect for his contribution to Indian cricket, the Indian government honored him with the Padmabhushan award. He was also chosen the Indian cricketer of the century by Wisden, beating the likes of the great Sunil Gavaskar and the batting genius, Sachin Tendulkar.