Kapil Dev’s highest score is an unbeaten 175 off just 138 balls against Zimbabwe, which came on June 18, 1983, during the ODI World Cup.

The former Indian captain bailed his team out of misery by putting on a one-man show, which helped the team win the match, and eventually, lift the World Cup.

India, after having decided to bat first, underwent a humiliating top-order collapse, with none of the top five batters managing scores in double figures. In fact, two of those five men, including openers Sunil Gavaskar and Kris Srikkanth, failed to open their accounts.

Zimbabwe’s bowlers had exploited the great bowling pitch of Tunbridge Wells Stadium to the fullest. And with India now staring down the barring, Kapil Dev arrived amidst little expectations at a time when his team was reeling at 9/4.

The Indian captain made a cautious start to his innings, with Roger Binny providing much-needed support from the other end. Despite his best efforts, Binny could only muster 22 runs while new batter Ravi Shastri departed for just one. 

With seven wickets lost inside 80 runs, Kapil Dev stitched a 62-run partnership with tail-ender Madan Lal to take India from 78/7 to 140/8.

India had saved themselves from utter humiliation, but the job was far from done. In order to win, they needed to post a total that they could defend and 140 sure wasn’t it. 

By the time India’s No. 11 Syed Kirmani walked onto the field, everything seemed lost, but Kapil Dev did manage to reach his half-century in the 49th over. ODI matches were earlier played for 60 overs.

The duo went on to add 126 runs together, the highest partnership for ninth wicket in ODI cricket back then, while the Indian skipper scored 75 runs in the final 11 overs as India finished the innings at 266/8.

Kapil Devi finished with 175 runs off 138 balls. His innings included 16 fours and six sixes. He was the only Indian to hit a six in the innings.

The Indian bowling attack did the rest as the team somehow managed to restrict Zimbabwe at 235 to win the match by 31 runs. It is largely believed that this particular win was the biggest catalyst in India winning the World Cup title that year.

No telecast of the iconic innings

It’s a general belief that the reason why India vs Zimbabwe wasn’t telecast was because BBC was on strike. But in reality, the broadcasters had no space to adjust this match in the calendar since, on June 18, as many as four games were being played.

BBC only had two TV crews and they decided this particular match did not hold any significance.

The decision simply backfired as the match witnessed one of the best individual performances in the history of the game.

Kapil Dev’s highest score

Score Balls Format Opposition Year
175* 138 ODI Zimbabwe 1983
163 165 Test Sri Lanka 1986
129 180 Test South Africa 1992
126* 124 Test West Indies 1979
119 138 Test Australia 1986

Featured photo: AFP / Greg Wood