Captaining the team at the age of 24, Wisden's Indian cricketer of the century and taking 400 wickets on Indian soil. These are the signs of greatness and Kapil is all of that.
When we talk about Shane Warne, his legacy is built on the fact that he took those many wickets on Australian pitches where there is no help for spinners. Similarly, Kapil Dev's legacy is much bigger than the stats as they don't tell that his wickets came on Indian pitches which do not support pacers.
Dev has produced many magical performances over the years with bat and bowl and earned himself the title of the best all-rounder in the world. Manier times he carried the team to victory on his own, like his 175 against Zimbabwe in the world cup, which is believed to be the best ODI innings ever.
Also Read | Viv Richards 189 vs. England, 1984
Kapil is a living legend, with numerous records to his name and a glamorous profile which spans over 16 years.
Birth And Road till Debut :
Kapil Dev was born on 6th January 1959 in Chandigarh. Dev represented Haryana while growing up.
He was 16 years old when he made his debut for Haryana in 1975. He had impressive 3 seasons with the state. He earned the media's attention when he took 7/65 in the Duleep Trophy final. It was that performance when he finally got the call to represent India.
Early Career :
Kapil Dev made his debut against Pakistan in Pakistan on 16th October 1978. He was fierce with his bowling, daring to bowl bouncers and he had a glimpse of true great fast bowlers which India lacked and sadly still does.
However, the stats state otherwise, as he picked just a single wicket in the whole match and failed to pile runs as well.
As the series progressed, Kapil settled in the side and demonstrated that by his all-around performance in the series.
It didn't take him long enough to score his first century as well as 5 wicket haul. Both the feats were accomplished in the tours against West Indies and England.
It was time for his ODI debut, Kapil had a decent ODI career, but his all-around performances were the key that he was the key factor in all the matches he played. He was selected for the 79 world Cup, The campaign ended in disappointment both for India and Dev.
Kapil was on a rise in Test Cricket, he had become the key bowler for India till their tour against Australia. Dev ended the series on a high note as he was the highest wicket-taker with 28 wickets in the series.
It was the peak of his career and too just a year and a half after his debut. He rose to more fame after thrashing Pakistan with bat and bowl in the home series in 1979. He also took his personal best of 7/56 against Pakistan which he credits his best bowling performance of all time.
By the end of the series, Kapil became the youngest Test player to take 100 wickets and score 1000 runs.
While everything was leading to the 1983 World Cup, Dev was having a tuff time adjusting to the limited-overs format. It was the 1981-82 home tour against England where Dev showed his variety as a bowler in ODI's. He scored 318 runs and took 22 wickets in the series. England was yet to see more of him, as when India toured England in 82, Dev again bagged the man of the series trophy with his all-around performance.
1983 World Cup and Captaincy :
Kapil was handed the captaincy in 1982, just before the World Cup. He was 23 at that time. When India went to England for the tour, they were the underdogs, but Kapil was the one who had a belief, a fighting spirit to give India a reason to celebrate.
This was the only World Cup edition in the history of cricket to feature Double Round robin, and it proved to be a nightmare for India.
India won their first 2 matches in the World Cup, which ignited hope in India. Dev though had a lesser role in these victories, but by then only he became the most successful captain for India in the World Cup.
Had, it been a single round-robin competition, India would have qualified by then, but it being double round-robin, India faced hurdles.
India lost to Australia, despite Kapil's career-best 5/ 43. India then lost to West Indies, which means they now needed to win both the remaining matches against Zimbabwe and Australia.
In a do-or-die situation against Zimbabwe, India was 17/5, and Kapil Dev stepped onto the pitch. This match made Kapil dev 'The Kapil Dev' he smashed Zimbabwe bowlers out of the park and scored 175 not out which is considered to be the best ODI innings ever.
India was through to the semi-finals post their victory against Australia. They now faced England where it was an easy outing for the men in blue, Kapil picked 3 wickets and India advanced to finals to face West Indies.
In the finals, it was a disappointing batting display when India was out for 183. While defending the innings, Dev bowled an economical spell, but his fierce captaincy reduced Indies to 183.
It is said that if the catch of Richards would not have been taken then the world cup would have slipped. And it was a very difficult catch.
Dev became the youngest captain to win the World Cup. He contributed 303 runs and took 12 wickets and 7 catches in the tournament.
Post World Cup and Retirement :
Kapil Dev had knee surgery in 1984 and that was a decline to his peak. Further, there were captaincy changes, he was removed as captain post-West Indies series in 184. He was again selected captain in 1985. These off-the-field issues certainly hampered his peak.
It was the time for the 1987 World Cup and Dev was again the captain. However, India lost to England in an unfortunate manner in the semi-finals. This was the last time Kapil Dev ever captained the side.
In the early '90s during his final years, Dev had one target in mind and that was to displace Hadlee as the leading wicket-taker in the test.
His last World Cup was 1992 edition, where he was the best batsman in terms of strike rate for India. Kapil retired in 1994 once he broke Hadlee's record.
5 wickets in innings
10 wickets in innings
Test cricket :
Highest wicket-taker in the world from 1994-1999.
Only player to score 4,000 Test runs and 400 Test wickets
Youngest test cricketer to take 100 (21 years, 25 days), 200 (24 years, days), and 300 wickets (27 years, 2 days)
ODI cricket :
Highest wicket-taker in ODI cricket (1978-1994) with 253 wickets
Peak rating (631) is the highest ever achieved (22 March 1985) after a World Series final against Pakistan in Australia.
Highest ODI score when batting at number 6 position or lower as well in World Cup history (175*)