Kapil Dev turns 60: 10 lesser-known things about India’s first World Cup winning captain
Kapil Dev turns 60 today. (AFP Image)

Born January 6, 1959, Kapil Dev is undoubtedly the greatest allrounder to have represented India. Many have come close but a World Cup win makes Kapil stand head and shoulders above others.

India’s greatest allrounder had some relatively unknown facts about his career as well.

1. It has been two decades since Kapil (5,248 runs and 434 wickets) has left centre stage, but he still remains the only one to the double of 5,000 runs and 400 wickets. Shaun Pollock (3,781 and 421) had briefly threatened to emulate him, as had Daniel Vettori (4,531 and 362). None of them could make it.

2. On his debut at Faisalabad, Kapil walked out at 425 for 6 to join Dilip Vengsarkar. He asked the umpire, as he was used to, “Please, can I have a leg-stump guard?” He was laughed at and sledged at by the Pakistan cricketers, who later advised him not to be too polite during a cricket match.

3. Kapil’s marriage proposal to Romi is one of the most unusual ones. Though outspoken, Kapil found it difficult to confess to her. Then, as he mentions in Cricket My Style, he mustered the courage on one of the train journeys. As the train passed a scenic location, he asked her: “Do you want to take a picture of this place so that we can show our children?”

It took her some time to realise what he was talking about, but she agreed.

4. Though never express, Kapil could, as Balvinder Sandhu said, often reach the 140-145 kmph mark. With years he sacrificed his pace for accuracy. When Gavaskar felt Kapil was tired, he often ran from the slips to Kapil at the top of his mark, only to say “I have come to give you a little breather while I walk back slowly to slips.” That was the ego boost Kapil needed: the next few overs were usually his fastest.

5. One of the fastest runners between wickets, Kapil was never run out in his entire Test career lasting 184 innings. Mudassar Nazar, with 116 “run-out-less” Test innings, comes next on the list, followed by Paul Collingwood (115) and Graeme Hick (114). Of active players, Marlon Samuels (97) leads the way.

6. When India were bowled out for 90 at Eden Gardens in 1983-84 (thereby losing the series to West Indies), the public was not amused. Stones were thrown at the Indian bus. Most of the team put their helmets on or lay flat on the ground, face down. Kapil never flinched; he sat bolt upright throughout the attack.

7. Though Kapil and Vengsarkar were not on good terms with Gavaskar, they seldom locked horns with each other on field. Things took a different turn at Cuttack in 1986-87 when Kapil took his 300th Test wicket. It was a wretched pitch, on which Dilip Vengsarkar scored an incredible 166.

To keep both men happy, the adjudicators named Kapil Man of the Match and Vengsarkar Man of the Series, but the Bombay man refused: Kapil had, after all, taken only four wickets on a treacherous track. A livid Colonel turned down the award, even after Kapil offered him The Man of The Match Award.

8. The above incident was a stray one. Having played alongside each other, Kapil and Vengsarkar had scripted many a partnership for India. A relatively lesser known fact is that Kapil and Vengsarkar were the first pair to play a hundred Tests together. Vengsarkar was the only person to be present when Kapil took his 100th, 200th, 300th, and 400th Test wickets.

9. Everyone is aware of the fact that Kapil went past Richard Hadlee’s world record tally of 431 Test wickets to become the leading wicket-taker at Green Park, 1993-94. A less-remembered fact is that he became the leading wicket-taker in both Tests and ODIs when he reached the milestone. He is the only bowler between Dennis Lillee and Muttiah Muralitharan to achieve this.

10. Kapil has made cameo appearances (all as himself) in Stumped, Mujhse Shaadi Karogi, Aryan: Unbreakable, Chain Kulii ki Main Kulii, and most famously, Iqbal. While all attracted huge cheers from the audience, he did not play a significant role in any of the movies.