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When Haryana lad became LORD

The man who choked Vivian Richards on a wintry evening back in '83 doesn't quite think it was the best catch of his life


WASN'T THE catch he took off Issac Vivian Alexandar Richards, the man with the best swagger and pull in cricket — on that wintry evening, running backwards almost 15 yards with his eyes on the ball all the time — the catch of his life? Viv was on a rampage and it seemed the match would close 30 overs earlier. It was 60 overs then.

Kapil Dev, the Haryana Hurricane, surprises you with a: "No, it is not the best catch of my life. It was an important catch, but not the best." A die-hard fan would not believe that — see a clipping of that, and you will be convinced Kapil is underplaying the enormity of the best backward run and catch in the historic World Cup final of 1983, one that brought down the magnificent Viv. "The last wicket was the most important," he says. You are not inclined to believe that either.

In any case, Kapil was not in Bangalore for cricket, but to inaugurate the second edition of the Christel House Open International Charity Golf Tournament, which is one of its kind: this tournament tees off simultaneously across 30 golf courses across five continents, one of the biggest charity events in the world.

The event, One day-One event-One world-One cause, is being "planned as a Guinness Book of World Record event". The one-day event will feature about 3,000 golfers and will be played on June 14.

Bangalore and Pune will host the Indian leg and Bangalore will have the privilege of teeing of first in India.

Logic would have it that you ask him more of golf. But knowing well that here was a man who, in a moment, changed the course of a match and the face of Indian cricket, that could not have been. It would be a lost chance if one didn't ask what went on in the mind of the man who came in at 17 for 5 against minions, Zimbabwe, in a crucial qualifying match in the 1983 World Cup. What was your 175 knock all about? At 17 for 5, you must have been clueless, you can't help asking.

"It was a good, good dream. It is over now. It is time to look ahead. It is good to remember, but the world is moving ahead. And its 20 years." It is difficult to grasp how 1983 does not figure as dream that never ended by the very man who fulfilled one for the country. A World Cup win.

When you are here to inaugurate a golf show, then you probably would not want to say much about cricket. And why golf suddenly? "Cricket was over. So, I just took to golf."

He likes the game, says it is tough, and that it throws a challenge inside him. Kapil has played enough golf to be able to say it confidently. He is not looking at winning or losing.

The golf is there, and so is charity. "We are lucky. God has given us happiness, fame, and the time of a life we looked for. If we help each other, we can make life more beautiful for the under-privileged. I will give lots of my time to sponsors who help those who are not as lucky as we are. That is the least I can do."

Kapil has been into charity work for some time and he and a couple of his friends have put together an organisation, Khushi, which works from New Delhi. Khushi helps people in villages in and around Delhi.


He is involved with other charity work too. Of course, he runs his company that is all about studio and lighting. His wife does professional packing.

But one invariably comes back to cricket again:

"You must have been very stressed when allegations were flying hard and fast?"

"It was a tough time."

"Your wife stood by you through out?"

"After all she is my wife. I would expect us to stick together, not neighbours!"

He does say that the media did not really bring him down. They do their work and if they are into business, what can one do? "Let them do what they have to," is how he philosophises that hard time.

And you also had to ask the man who played with the likes of Richards, Holding, and Roberts what it was like.

"They were great players."

"What was Richards like?"

"Oh, he was a great, fine batsman."

"How about Lara?"

"The thing I like about Lara is he enjoys his batting all the time. And he has a great temperament in getting runs and more than once at that."

"What about Sachin? Him and Richards?"

"Sachin is good, but you can't rate batsmen. They are of a different time and era. Sobers was great, but so was Gavaskar."

Kapil is sceptical about how cricket would do in Holland, a triangular that has been planned, or in South East Asia "I don't know what kind of a crowd you can get in Holland in a match between India and Australia. Some people do these things. I have a mixed feeling about these things."

Kapil is not into cricket academies and feels that somehow cricket is being promoted too privately. "Everybody should be involved. But if only some are going ahead, then let them do so."

The man who brought down the king of cricket and with it the Calypso high, seems sober, weathered, and not as physically fit as one has known him.

But time has elapsed. Just as he thinks Bangalore is a city that is moving ahead, he believes he has to move ahead too.

That he seems to be doing in a hurry. But you still wonder what makes that catch only important and not the best in his life!

PRASHANTH G.N.

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