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Kapil Dev Nikhanj

    It would not be wrong if one would call kapil Dev one of the greatest all-rounder’s of not just Indian cricket but also in the history of the game. Such have been the deeds of this natural cricketer from Haryana that words would not be enough to describe them. Ever since he took to the game in the late 70's to the time he called it quits in the mid 90's, he remained a leading all-rounder in the game. He held the record for the most number of Tests and One-day wickets for quite a long time.

    Courtney Walsh and Wasim Akram took over respectively. Kapil was a truly inspirational cricketer who has charted the course of many a famous Indian victory almost single handed. Captaining India to win the Prudential World Cup in 1983 obviously was the highlight of his illustrious career.

    Kapil Dev was born in a timber merchant's family on 6th January, 1959 in Chandigarh. Surprisingly for such a talented cricketer, there was never a lineage of cricket in his family. His father, Ramlal Nikhanj who was a thorough perfectionist and a strict disciplinarian instilled in him the virtues of hard work.

    Kapil played his first really competitive game of cricket at the young age of 13 and quite accidentally too. In Chandigarh one Sunday, the Sector 16 team fell one player short and Kapil, who had gone to watch the match was roped in. The young Kapil impressed all with his attitude and talent and thus became a regular member of the side.

    No sooner did he realise that he had some talent he wanted to excel in the sport. The fighter that he always was, the young lad, fought all odds to test his skills against quality opposition. His elder brother Bhushan Dev, who was three years older to Kapil, gave him the biggest encouragement and at age of 14, Kapil started playing for DAV school and college.

    He was coached by Desh Prem Azad who was the only well known coach in the city of Chandigarh. Such was his love for the game that after the school hours at 1.30 p.m. he would race home on his bicycle, take a quick lunch and set out for the cricket ground at 2.15 p.m. only to be there at 2.40 p.m. When Kapil was 15 he attended a live-in coaching camp in Bombay. The camp was conducted at the Cricket Club of India by Hemu Adhikari who also was an ex-India's test cap and commentator.

    After a long and tiring practice session the boys were offered a paltry lunch. Kapil was upset and said to the organiser, Mr. Tarapore, “I am from the North. I work hard and bowl fast. I am hungry when I finish. I could eat a horse and all you can give me is two chappatis". Mr. Tarapore was shocked at his outburst. Mr. Tarapore then passed a sarcastic remark saying that was India and there were no fast bowlers in India. Kapil took this humiliation in his stride but this incident went a long way in strengthening his resolve to be the best and fastest bowler that India has ever produced.

    Kapil Dev made his Test debut against Pakistan on 16th October 1978 at Faisalabad in Pakistan. Although India lost the series there was a silver lining at the end of the tour as the series heralded the arrival of Kapil Dev Nikhanj as a fast bowler and an all rounder of considerable merit. He remained India's spearhead pacemen for a decade and a half. Hence, he was nicknamed as 'Haryana Hurricane'.

    Many believe that he did not take his batting seriously. He was a hard hitter. However, his 5000 plus runs, 434 test wickets and 64 catches reveal that truly he was a great all rounder. Other achievements are his unbeaten 175 against Zimbabwe in the World Cup in 1983 when India were tottering at 17/5. His four successive sixes of Eddie Hemmings in the first innings of the Lords Test in 1990 to get the 24 runs needed to avoid the follow on, are now, of course, part of cricketing folklore.

    He accepted the job of the Indian Coach in 1999. All his remarkable deeds have made him the Cricketer of the Millennium. Truly an achievement for a simple lad from a timber merchant's family!

    What was so special about Kapil was he can bowl both inswinger and outswinger, turning the ball in the air. At that time, England had a similar all-rounder called Ian Botham, and there was always a neck and neck race between these two. Fearing his attack, the mighty Australians named him as KAPIL DEVIL!.

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