Mid-December, 1984, a time of turmoil in the country… second Test, Delhi, England vs India.
India has won the first Test at Bombay, with Siva taking his immortal 12 wickets, Gavaskar is the captain. India scores 307 in the first innings, Kapil Dev top-scoring with 60; England replies with 418, Kapil taking only 1/87 – then India, playing for a draw, as Gavaskar desired, scores only 235, and Kapil, having just hit Pat Pocock for a six, tries for another, and is caught by Lamb, for only seven. India folds, and England scores 127/2 in the second innings, and Gavaskar is furious – with Kapil, with himself, with life.
What does he do?
He sees that Kapil is punished for that shot — and the great man — the greatest all-round cricketer ever to play for India, one of the top five all-rounders in the history of the game, is dropped — for the only time in his career. Nobody could believe… it was as if Sachin was dropped today or even more. Kapil, who never withdrew himself from any game… ever; who played on and on as a lone warrior — he is dropped??!!! India draws the next Test in Calcutta, amid much protest — but loses the series 2-1.
Now, in that Test in Delhi, Gavaskar himself — the great Gavaskar — scored only one in the first innings, but top scored with 65 in the second, his only worthwhile knock in the entire series, for which he averaged only 17.50, as against 42.16 for Kapil, but in the crucial second innings in Delhi, playing for a draw, he scored 65 off 164 balls, before being bowled by, take a guess — Pocock — hence he had the right and the angst and the anger to really get at Kapil — and he did.
Now, in an even tighter and tenser situation, India is playing for a face-saving draw at the Oval — the great Dhoni played an unforgivable shot — at least as bad as Kapil’s, if not worse — but, of course, he is the captain, he does not have a Gavaskar to get upset with him…
But he should be dropped — for the first Test against Australia in December – if Kapil could be dropped, then why not Dhoni? Kapil took it, and came back and played the rest of the series — not only played, but was outstanding. In the fourth Test, he top-scored with 53 in the first innings, then bowled his heart out — 36/5/131/2 — yes, 36 overs — and in the second innings strived to avoid defeat with a fighting 49 — what did Gavaskar do in the two innings – 17 and 3. And then in the final Test, Kapil scored 42 to Gavaskar’s 9 in India’s only true innings, and then bowled — listen to this again — 36.5/7/81/4 – can you believe this? Instead of crying over his bruised ego, the great man spoke with bat and ball to prove how great he truly was.
Will Dhoni do this? Or will he just mouth platitudes like a puppet and carry on with the one-dayers as if nothing has happened?
Test averages: 2011, India vs England batting — Rahul rules like a warrior-king, but who is second? Amit Mishra… what more needs to be said. Bowling? Today’s mini-Kapil is way out in front — Praveen Kumar. Ishant Sharma a distant second.
Now, is it by chance that the first and second in batting and bowling all went to the West Indies, rather than stay home or nurse injuries or egos? Yes, they all played the IPL — but were then ready to play in the Windies – no excuses, no bahanas. Greatness – Kapil, Dravid – forever – they have stooped to conquer, again and again.
And to end on a sober note – no, not Sobers, sadly, we are playing three warm-up matches for the one-day series. We played one for the Test series, in other words, three days of practice for a one-day match; two days of practice for a five-day match. The great Dravid has it right again — we are not giving Test cricket anywhere near the importance it so richly deserves.
Australia is waiting — hungry for revenge — are we hungry for anything, except money?
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Updated Date: Sep 18, 2011 11:49:48 IST