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Kapil Dev encouraged a lot of Indian fast bowlers: Balvinder Singh Sandhu

It took a long time coming, but Kapil Dev will finally receive the Colonel CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award for 2013. What’s more, with Kapil becoming the 21st recipient of this award, the differences that had developed between him and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), post 2007 when the rebel Indian Cricket League was formed, will eventually be laid to rest.

Balvinder Singh Sandhu
Balvinder Singh Sandhu

In a statement, the BCCI said: “The Board’s award committee, comprising its president N Srinivasan, secretary Sanjay Patel and senior journalist Ayaz Memon, met here Wednesday to nominate a winner. It was unanimously decided to nominate Mr Kapil Dev Nikhanj for the award.”

Needless to say those who know the ‘Haryana Hurricane’ were overjoyed with the Board’s decision to honour Kapil. “If there ever was a player who deserved this award, it’s Kapil. I know it’s a bit late, but I am happy that he will be receiving the award,” said Kapil’s 1983 World Cup winning teammate Balvinder Singh Sandhu.

In his fabulous international career spanning 16 years, during which he played 131 Tests and 225 ODIs, Kapil Dev was easily amongst the world’s best all-rounders, taking a once world record 434 Test wickets and plundering 5248 runs in the longest format of the game. He also took 253 ODI wickets and hit 3783 runs.

Kapil Dev and L Balaji
Kapil Dev with India pacer L Balaji at the National Cricket Academy at Bangalore in 2004. Pic/AFP

These stats in themselves provide a glimpse into the sort of a champion Kapil was, but Sandhu believes the greatest contribution that Kapil made was he instilled self-belief into a generation of Indian pace bowlers.

“He inspired a lot of Indian fast bowlers. That, I believe is his greatest contribution. During that era, there were fast bowlers who bowled extremely well on pitches that were conducive to pace bowling, but only Kapil and Richard Hadlee were able to bowl well on any surface. That is where he stood out,” he explained.

Elaborating facets of Kapil’s bowling, Sandhu said: “There were days when good bowlers struggled to find their rhythm, especially in the sub-continent. But that was hardly the case with Kapil. He could extract swing on any surface. The other outstanding feature about him was his fitness. Few players could match up to him.” 

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