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Dynamic, positive and inspirational, the historic success of Kapil Dev Nikhanj in the world of cricket has set a precedent, reconditioning the mindset of Indian players- acquiring that tenacious streak to be on the winning wicket. And ignited the imagination of views in a nation where this sport spells electric excitement.. As critics kept on reinventing their lexicon to commend his cricketing prowess, countless sobriquets embellished his CV. When he bowled, they called him a -Haryana Hurricane- who demolished the opponent with his -clinical assaults- When he picked up the bat, wielding runs with a devil-may-care attitude; and fielded with athletic agility, ensuring that catches make matches, they called him a -swashbuckler- Thus catapulted to find a pride of place among the world-s finest all-rounder, as a -complete cricketer- Dev led from the front in his twice-over captaincy and steered many a famous Indian victory, with the Prudential World Cup in 1983, becoming the unforgettable landmark in his distinguished career. Making his debut in first-class cricket in 1975, still two months away from his 17th birthday, Dev played for his home state Haryana, Quite a debut, bagging 6 wickets for just 39 runs. And his international cricketing journey commenced in the Indo-Pak series at Faisalabad in 1978, transforming Indian cricket-s spin-oriented scenario, where homes spun pace bowlers of high caliber were yet to be seen in action. A tear away fast bowler, with a side-on action played to perfection, he combined control over line and length with an amazing ability to move the ball both ways. Dev heralded his skills when the famed spin quartet, Bishan Singh Bedi, Erapalli Prasanna, Bhagwat S. Chandrasekhar and Srinivas Venkataraghavan, was on the decline. With sheer perseverance, he shattered the all-time myth that India could not produce fast blowers, or even win matches.
The Indian masses, for whom cricket sets their heart on fire, the adventurous spirit of tis son of the soil simply thrilled the spectators. His vim and verve stoked the cricket consciousness in a country, where pitches were hostile to a pace bowler. No wonder, accolades like, -Iron Man- of Indian cricket and -Shock and Stock Bowler- became the mainstay of his profile. Tall, lithe, with a zest to procure the unattainable, he created the iconic image of a powerhouse in the Indian psyche. As this persona of a winner gave him the cutting edge, he touched the pinnacle of glory with the bowling feat of breaking Sir Richard Hadlee-s record in 1994. With this single-mindedness to scale unprecedented heights, he played 131 tests, with just one break on non-cricketing grounds. And created a milestone, as the only player in the world to capture 434 wickets, while amassing 5248 runs.
A rewarding, eventful life, brimming with awards and acclaim, got tangled with a brief interlude of controversy related to unholy allegations of match-fixing in 2000. In this trial by fire, he emerged stronger, absolved of any charges, though psychological scars left a mark. All the same, life came full circle with the most coveted honour- Wisden Indian Cricketer of the Century, 2002. Such is the stuff legends are made of. Here-s an engaging insight into the mind of a living legend, a tremendous fighter, who not only ran between the wickets but also got all his wickets- bang on! The bottom line-passion to play!
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