‘Didn’t Know How To Talk, Only Knew How To Play’, Kapil Dev Remembers India’s First World Cup Victory

A nation obsessed with cricket, I sometimes think most Indians are injected with a cricket serum from birth.  It may not be the national sport, but unites the nation like none other. Eat, breathe and sleep cricket, yes, that’s what we do. The men in blue have been elevated to demi-god-like-status, and as the country awaits to get the cup back home, Team India completes 36 years since history was made at Lords, on June 25, 1983. Kapil Dev and the Indian XI lifted the ‘Prudential Cup’, team India’s first ever world cup win.

Sports Journalist Nikhil Naz, in his book ‘Miracle Me’n calls it the ‘greatest underdog story in cricket’ rather in the world of sport. As a bunch of no hopers, under Dev’s inspirational captaincy, were led to world cup glory.

Former cricketer and the man who was part of the selection process for the team, Bishan Singh Bedi says, it was a good thing they were the underdogs, since they had nothing to lose.’

Kapil Dev, who led the team at the age of 24, recounts, ‘humein pata nahi tha humne kya kiya, we just played the match with the same intensity with which we played all matches. I hear about these stories of how I was consumed by people’

Kirti Azad, who was the 12th man, says ‘when they told me we had been selected to play the world cup , I said wah ek mahine ki lambi chutti milgayi’.

The team which played its semi-final against the hosts England, says England had the confidence it would thrash us and reach the finals, but the pitch took a turn for India.

‘Cricket is played in English, not Hindi. We were mocked and seniors in the team wondered how I would handle it. I didn’t know English, nor did I know how to talk, all I knew was how to play’, added Kapil Dev.

Travelling in a bus called the Caravan, the team entertained itself by watching films. Commenting on how savvy the current lot is, Kapil Dev said, we didnt work out much. The other day, I was watching Virat Kohli, who despite scoring a century wasn’t too happy about his fitness, that he opened the gymnasium post match at 11:30 and worked out. In our case, if we scored a century, we acted as if we could skip three days of practice.’

We were the lot that was in the midst of the winds of change that would change the course of cricket.

It’s been 36 years and the country’s passionate affair with cricket continues so much so, even filmmaker Kabir Khan is bringing this story on screen. After all, when it comes to cricket and films, it’s a formula for success.

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