THE MATCH I LIKED THE MOST
Sunday, January 30, 1994 was a day of glory for the Indian Cricket team. It was the day of one more achievement of the Indian all rounder Kapil Dev. The nation rejoiced as Kapil Dev equaled the tally of 431 test wickets of Sir Richard Hadle. Bangalore, of course has the pride of having two great world players chasing a world record. Richard Hadlee came to the city in1988 in quest of a wicket to equal his tally with 374 of Ian Botham. Arun Lal was his 374th victim in his 75th test. The fall of Srikanth made him the greatest wicket take of the world.
The same drama was enacted at the same ground six years later. The hero was not Hadlee but Kapil. Kapil had been chasing Hadlee’s mark for some time. He felt that time was running out on him. But the opportunity came his way after Wickremsinghe became his 430th victim. The Lankans were playing hard and Kapil made it up. His chase for the 431 put him under a little psychological strain. The severe strain was responsible for his balls going wide off the mark.
Anil Kumble at the other end came to his help. He deliberately bowled two overs wide of the off stump to make it possible for Kapil to gain time to have the final shot to make history. Kumble’s gesture was applauded hysterically by the spectators. To the Lankans it looked as if the last pair was extending its stay. It was a crucial moment. With his most serious effort Kapil shot a rear at Don Anursairi’s throat. With Azharuddin clitching the catch at slip the drama was over. Don became Kapil’s 431st victim and he equaled Sir Richard Hadlee. As a journalist says “overtaking the record is now a mere formality”.
‘Kapil’, as he says, has taken inspiration from his better half Romi’. He had called her to Bangalore as he was expecting the match crucial for his ambition. The entire Indian cricket team surrounded the king of bowling who broke down out of joy. The spectators, the journalists, his fans all surrounded him. He was chaired into the pavilion be players and his fans. The first thing he did was – he hugged Romi ‘like there was no tomorrow’.
The achievement was made. The Indian all rounder was in tears when he accepted the man of the match award from skipper Azharuddin who had actually received it for his brilliant century and leadership. Kapil thanked his fans, parents, wife and co players in a choked voice and again broke down. He subscribed his achievement as the achievement of the country.
Kapil rounded up saying ‘I am happy that an Indian could reach this landmark. This is a credit for the country and for Indian Cricket’. I dedicate this record to my parents, my wife and God,’ said Kapil Dev who crossed 431 to become the highest wicket taker in the world after a couple of days at Ahmadabad. Besides huge sums coming to him from different sources the railway ministry gave him a permanent IAC pass for any destination. Glorious the achievement was and will remain even if someone crosses his record.