Kapildev Ramlal Nikhanj, India’s greatest allrounder was born at Chandigarh on 6th of January 1959. Known as the ‘Haryana Hurricane’, he was a right arm fast medium bowler and a hard hitting lower middle order batsman. He was an outstanding fielder anywhere in the field. During a career lasting 17 years, Kapildev represented Haryana, Northamptonshire, Worcestershire and India.
The legendary allrounder made his debut against Pakistan at Faisalabad in 1978-9 and his one-day debut on the same tour at Quetta. He bid farewell to international cricket in 1994-5 after the one-day international against the West Indies at Faridabad. Kapildev played his last test against New Zealand at Hamilton in 1993-4. He was chosen Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1983.
Kapildev played 131 tests, scoring 5,248 runs with eight hundreds and an average of 31.05. His highest score in tests was 163. He claimed 434 wickets at an average of 29.64 and had best bowling figures of 9-83, besides taking 64 catches. In 225 ODIs, he scored 3,783 runs at an average of 23.79, had a strike rate of 95 and scored one hundred. He claimed 253 wickets at an average of 27.45 and had best figures of 5-43. Kapildev led India in the mid ‘eighties with a lot of flair. He will always be remembered for how he led from the front to bring the Prudential World Cup home in 1983.
Kapildev was a cricketer with a lot of charisma. He could bowl fast medium, with a nice bounding runup and an exaggerated sideon action. The outswinger being his stock ball, he could also bowl the late inswinger, and in his early days used the bouncer to good effect. A batsman who really walloped the ball, his 175 n.o. against Zimbabwe in the World Cup of 1983 will be remembered for all time to come as one of the finest innings, played under tremendous pressure. He was an excellent fielder and had perhaps the safest pair of hands on the cricket field. Who can forget the catch he took in the World Cup final to dismiss Vivian Richards to put India on the path to a historic win?
Kapildev overtook Hadlee’s record of 431 wickets and then went on to claim three more before bidding adieu to test cricket. There have been a few bowlers who have overtaken him since then, including Anil Kumble recently. But not many will have had the adulation that the ‘Haryana Hurricane’ had the world over. Amongst the great allrounders of his era, which included legends like Imran Khan, Sir Richard Hadlee and Ian Botham, Kapildev had his pride of place and commanded a lot of respect from the greatest cricketers past and present.
After his retirement, Kapildev was coach of the Indian team for a short while and is now involved in media and event management. He plays golf at the competitive level and is a brand ambassador for many Indian products. Married to Romi, he has a daughter.