Cricket / Second Test: Kapil still has the old devil

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The Independent Online
WHILE England were plunging towards defeat there was a nostalgic glimpse of Kapil Dev the bowler, which excited the huge crowd just as much as Kapil Dev the batsman had done with his powerful strokes on the second day. He and his fellow all-rounder Ian Botham have the same effect on the spectators even at this late stage of their careers.

The books say Kapil is 34, but he seems to have been around for so long that I cannot help wondering if his birth certificate would agree. In this match he has taken his tally of runs past 5,000 and is now only 15 wickets short of beating Richard Hadlee's record of 431.

Just for a few overs, when he took the new ball at the start of England's second innings, the past began to flash before one's eyes. Kapil is, of course, thicker round the middle now and about a yard slower, yet the control was there and so was the swing. He and Botham have been the outstanding swing bowlers over the last 15 years. An inswinger soon accounted for Alec Stewart, who moved too far across in trying to turn a ball to leg.

Then, in the first over after lunch, Graeme Hick thrust out at a good length ball he would on another day have been content to leave alone and was caught in the slips. Later in the over, a perfectly placed outswinger found the edge of Mike Gatting's bat only for Kiran More to dive in front of first slip and drop the catch.

Gatting was beaten twice more in that over when the ball moved away from the bat and one marvelled that Kapil could still do it. Mohammad Azharuddin had only intended to use his seam bowlers to remove the shine so that his spinners could grip the ball more easily. The heat soon got to Kapil after that and Azharuddin turned to spin, but Kapil's torpedoes had fatally holed the English ship.