The Nevill Ground at Turnbridge Wells has hosted only one international cricket match in its life. Very few have seen that match but almost everyone has heard of it. It was this very ground at which India’s captain Kapil Dev pulled off a miracle on 18th June 1983. His innings of 175 not out while coming out to bat at the sixth position is one of the greatest match-winning displays by an individual.
In the group stages of the 1983 World Cup, each of the four teams was scheduled to play each opponent twice. When India faced Zimbabwe for the second time, they had two wins and two losses in their tally. A loss here would have made their encounter against Australia a must-win game. Also losing to Zimbabwe, who were playing their first World Cup, at such a crucial stage would have dented their confidence. Thus when Zimbabwean pace bowling pair of Peter Rawson and Kevin Curran ripped apart the Indian top order, an upset was brewing at the Turnbridge Wells.
The captain’s knock
India’s openers, Sunil Gavaskar and Krishnamachari Shrikath returned to the pavilion without scoring a run. Mohinder Amarnath and Sandeep Patil followed suit as Rawson and Curran exploited the helpful conditions. When Kapil Dev walked out to bat, the score was 9/4. It soon worsened to 17/5 and the captain who had chosen to bat first now had to defend his decision by himself.
Dev steadied the ship with Roger Binny at the other end. However, India were struck by a double blow soon. Both Binny and Ravi Shastri fell in quick succession and the possibility of the game ending before lunch grew stronger. Dev did not concede defeat and launched an attack on the Zimbabwean bowlers. He added 62 runs with Madan Lal for the 8th wicket and 126 runs with Syed Kirmani for the 9th wicket. Their individual contributions were 17 and 24 runs respectively.
Scoring India’s first-ever ODI century, Dev brought up his ton in just 72 balls. By the time 60th over of the innings was completed, he was 175 not out in 181 minutes with 6 sixes and 16 fours. India reached 266/8 and despite Zimbabwe’s best efforts, the Asian team emerged winners by 31 runs.
The unfortunate miss
There are many theories as to why this innings was not covered by BBC. The most popular one suggests that the company was on strike that day while some say that they were not interested in covering a potentially one-sided game. The reality remains that the innings was not captured.
One step closer to the dream
Two days after this historic win, India defeated Australia by 118 runs to secure their semi-final berth. They further cruised to the final by taking down the hosts, England. And on 25th June, Dev flashed a world-winning smile from the Lord’s balcony with a glinting World Cup trophy in his hands.