“I would have never achieved what I did if my team didn’t play,” says Kapil Dev Nikhanj, the first Indian captain to win a World Cup. “It was the team who won the cup,” he asserts. But the people think that he was the driving force. “I was the captain. Motivating everybody was my job. But I would have never succeeded if my team had not played well. It is as simple as that. Without my team I am nothing,” he adds. “The glory belongs to the team 83.”
It is a known fact that Indian team was not taken seriously when the contest started. It was only after the Zimbabwe match, that was unfortunately not telecast thanks to the BBC strike, and Kapil’s world record that everyone was shaken up.
A true blood teenage fan of Kapil Dev of those days – someone who had scrapbooks that kept every single clipping about the all-rounder captain that appeared in all languages known and unknown – to read about his world record the next day was invigorating and more…
The exhilaration was re-lived when I saw the film 83. More so because I could see the world record; though enacted. And I am sure many like me did, including Sachin Tendulkar, for whom that was a defining moment.
Even today, I have seen women nearly scream when they see Kapil Dev, he is mobbed even after 40 years. The adulation is insane.
What was your best moment of the tour? “The first wicket by Sandhu and the last wicket by Amarnath,” comes a prompt reply. “Those were the turning points that helped us win the cup,” Kapil adds.
There has been so much talk about the team being the under dogs, especially so after the film 83. “People talk…”
Is he happy the way film is made? “There is nothing to complain about it.” Is the film the whole truth about him, his team etc.? “It is 95 percent true,” Kapil reveals. “When you make a film, you have to fictionalise some stuff to make it more interesting to the audience, to make it more relevant to the current generation…”
Kapil informs that the film is based on talks the filmmaker had with the team. “Everyone spoke to him separately. Nobody was influenced by anybody else’s memories or perception. Each gave his story. Some were more expressive than others, I guess. Finally, it was the filmmaker’s vision and decision… what he chose to pick up from the stories he got from all of us.”
His English… the film makes fun of him… does he speak better English today? Kapil laughs heartily at the question. “Don’t know. English bolne ke liye toh cricket nahin khelaa na…” he says.
What was the driving force during the entire World Cup 1983? “We were enjoying ourselves… and working towards playing better in the next match.”
Did you have a strategic plan before the finals? "Cricket changes every moment. Plans don't," mentions Kapil. "We did talk... but no plans. Only one goal - win the match."
Kapil, as per records, never missed even a single match due to injuries. This was an achievement for a fast bowler. “God was kind that I never had injuries just before the match.”
How did it feel to have world records in his pocket in the process? “I was happy,” he admits. “I was happier because it was an Indian all-rounder who did that,” he says. “It was good to know that, finally, an Indian fast bowler was being taken seriously. Personally, I played for the passion, never for records.”