11 May, 2021

He Dared

Kapil Dev went where no Indian even dreamt of going.

He Dared

Humiliation can sometimes act as a spur that changes the course of story. The history of India as a nation was shaped by a man who was ejected out of a train in colonial, racist South Africa. And a spark in its cricketing history was perhaps lit during its lowest moment cricket, the thrashing it received in England in 1974.

There is an apocryphal story that a 15 year-old boy following those games from back home felt so upset at India's defeat that he vowed to avenge it one day. India's spin quartet had failed them on that tour; England's pace had swung the series. Kapil Dev Ramlal Nikhanj decided then that pace bowling would be his vocation, and that a time would come when India would win matches through his fast bowling.

This was an audacious conception. Consider that India hadn't had genuine pace bowlers since Mohammad Nissar and Amar Singh in the '30s, and since Kapil had been born, in 1959, Indian new-ball bowlers existed only to take the shine off for the spinners. Fast bowling was alien to India's cricketing culture; pace, like pre-marital sex,...

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