Bengaluru, Feb 6: It was a crucial match for India for till then, Kapil's Devils had won two of their four matches. Australia were also with two wins and two losses at that time and the race for the semifinals was getting intense. Favourites West Indies looked all set to reach the semifinals. [Sourav Ganguly hammered 183 in 1999 WC to pack Sri Lankans home]
India took on debutants Zimbabwe in Nevill Grounds in Tunbridge Wells on June 18 and it was the second match between the two sides. Zimbabwe, who were playing in their first World Cup, had shocked the Australians in their very first match and also gave a tough fight to the Indians while defending a paltry 155. Could they pull off another upset?
India were reduced to 9 for 4 and after Kapil came to bat, they were 17 for 5
India won the toss and elected to bat first. But disaster struck the side as Sunil Gavaskar, Krishnamachari Srikkanth, Mohinder Amarnath and Sandeep Patil were back in the hunt in no time with India reeling at 9 for 4!
Kapil Dev, who batting at No. 7 (excepting the first match against the West Indies which India won), promoted himself and came out at No. 6 to take on the Zimbabwean opening bowlers who were breathing fire. But within an addition of 8 runs, Yashpal Sharma, too, was dismissed and half of the side was cleaned up with just 17 on the board. For the minnows, PWE Rawson had taken 3 wickets by then while KM Curran took 2.
Kapil & his all-rounders fought on
It was then when the skipper took charge and he just had the all-rounders and the wicket-keepers to look for support. First came a 60-run partnership with Roger Binny (22 off 48 balls) but India lost Binny and Ravi Shastri (1 off 6) in quick time to get reduced to 78 for 7. Even 100 was looking a distant dream at that moment.
But Madan Lal and Syed Kirmani had other things in their minds. The former dug in with a 39-ball 17 and put up a 62-run partnership with his skipper for the 8th wicket.
Kapil & Kirmani added unbeaten 126 runs for the 9th wicket
When he got out to Curran, India were 140-8 and still not out of danger. Kirmani then exhibited a sensible batting to support Kapil, who was then going in full flow. The duo put up an unbeaten 126 runs for the 9th wicket of which Kirmani scored only 24 (off 56 deliveries).
The rest was all about the Haryana Hurricane. He blasted six 6s and sixteen 4s to score an unbeaten 175 off just 138 balls. The score eclipsed Glenn Turner's 170 scored against East Africa in 1975 as the highest individual score in the World Cup till Vivian Richards broke it with his 181 against Sri Lanka in the 1987 edition.
Coming back to the match, India finished at a respectable 266 for 8 in their allotted 60 overs.
Zimbabwe gave a fight to India but fell short of the target by 31 runs. Curran scored 73 after taking 3 wickets but the day belonged to Kapil Dev Nikhanj, who also took 1 wicket to add to his stupendous batting performance.
It gave us confidence, Kapil said after the match and the rest is history
Kapil later said that the win gave his team the confidence that it could win from any situation and India backed this victory with a massive 118-run victory over Australia in the next match to seal a place in the semifinals.
They beat hosts England in the semifinals and the rest, as they say, is history.