It's ironic that the man who never wants to steal the spotlight announced that he'll be stepping down from captaincy in the same week as the birthday of two our greatest captains - Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi (5th Jan) and Kapil Dev (6th Jan). Unintentionally of course, the spotlight shifted to Mahendra Singh Dhoni. But I'm sure he too would agree that while we celebrate his great captaincy career, we should not forget others who had a hand in creating history.
Especially men like Kapil Dev, who remains the greatest all rounder we have ever produced. His glory days were well behind him when people of our generation started watching cricket. With the Sachins & Dravids coming in after that, cricket, for us, resided in those men. But no one should ever forget what Kapil Dev did for us. For our cricket and for our country.
It's never been an easy task. Being the captain of the Indian cricket side. But Kapil was more than up to it when he took over the reins in 1982, just a year before the World Cup.
The Indian contingent travelled to England in June, 1983, marked as clear underdogs. And we were thrown into the group of death comprising West Indies (2-time defending champions & clear tournament favourites), Australia and Zimbabwe.
Mind you, for an underdog team even Zimbabwe was a challenge those days.
Kapil's first test arrived in the first game itself. We faced West Indies. And it wasn't like it is now. All teams played each other twice. But India drew first blood and conquered the favourites. The second against Zimbabwe was smooth sailing too. But over the next two matches, India was decimated by Australia and a vengeful Windies outfit. And that is where the true story of Kapil's leadership begins.
There was a huge cloud of doubt over the Indian team. Maybe the critics were right. The first two victories were probably flukes and we did not deserve being in the knockout stages. But he would not have it. And India needed to win both remaining matches to qualify.
When India faced Zimbabwe again, the Africans too were desperate for a win. They came with an all-out attack. And just like that, India were 17 for 5. A BBC strike on that day meant that the match was not telecast and there's no video footage of the game. Eager ears back home waited by the radio for news.
The sun almost set on India's campaign. But like I said before, Kapil just wouldn't have it. He went out there and stayed out there till India played out the 60 overs (yes, we had 60 back then). And what the TV cameras so naively missed was a sparkling display by our captain.
16 fours and 6 sixes later, he returned to the pavillion, 175 not out. He saved us and we went on to win the game by 31 runs.
It gave enough confidence to the 'underdogs' to turn on their wolf mode and rip the Kangaroos apart. The Aussies went down to us by a massive 118 runs! The Indian team had turned the people back home into believers. Kapil Dev and his men were through to the knockout stage.
Of course, things were to only get tougher. We faced the country that invented the game. But Kapil was brilliant with the ball that day. Only 35 runs in 11 overs with 3 wickets. The England total of 213 was easily chased down by the first 5 batsmen of our line up.
The Windies, on the other hand, destroyed Pakistan and entered the final, as confident as ever. India and West Indies had won a match each in their two meetings so far in the tournament. The final was the truest decider: which of the two team was better, who deserved to be on top of the world.
So Kapil readied his troops for the 'David vs Goliath' battle. The Indian batting faced what was arguably the best bowling attack in the world. That attack proved its worth too. We had crumbled for 183. But when Kapil and his men sat in the locker room, he spoke to them.
His words, perhaps at that moment, needed to be the most inspiring. He said, "Team, if this is not a winning total, it's definitely a fighting total."
His men did not back down. They went out there, ready to fight. Though we got two early wickets, a magical moment was in the offing. The then best batsman in the world, Viv Richards, who looked set at the crease, lofted one over the in-field.
Kapil ran about 20 yards with the ball over his head and took a catch that forced an awed crowd onto the pitch.
After that, the Windies never got back up. India, however, were still skeptical and cautious. You can't blame them. But then, Kapil took the 9th wicket. He raised both his hands to the heavens knowing that the trophy was soon to be ours.
That small moment of celebration showed the effort he had put into the tournament and that it had paid off.
And sure enough, 14 runs later, Jimmy Amarnath caught Michael Holding on the pads and the finger went up. The Windies were 43 runs short. The ground was stormed by fans as Kapil and his men ran back up to the balcony at Lord's, the Mecca of cricket.
A few moments later, the iconic image of Kapil Dev being presented the Prudential Cup would be immortalised forever. India were world champions for the first time!
Whether you were born then or not, whether you witnessed it live or not, whether you remember the score or not or remember how we even won the game. You can thank the internet, the newspapers or TV or whatever you want for it, but you will forever remember the image of Kapil Dev holding up the world cup trophy on hostile territory.
The mention of his name will not take you back to his beautiful bowling action, his outswingers or the never-seen 175 not out vs Zimbabwe. It will always be that image, where he conquered the world and raised the trophy that proved everyone wrong.