Dev vs. Dhoni, 1983 vs. 2011

We all gush over Sachin Tendulkar and for good reason; there will never be a cricketer like him. Never. His passion for the game and his love for the bat is practically unheard of. But if there is one man who comes close to sharing his passion for cricket, in my opinion, it would have to be Kapil Dev. What immediately strikes me the minute I see Dev at any event, in an interiew or even in photographs, is his smile. It depicts humility which is rather odd since he is easily one of India's most successful captains. Better known as 'The Haryana Hurricane', Dev has taken Team India out of many sticky situations in the past but it is his achievements that set him apart from the rest. He retired in 1994 but not before he achieving some of the biggest numbers seen in the cricketing world at that time. Even then, he stood as humble as ever. In 1983, 'Kapil Dev and his Devils', as they were known went on to win and bring home the World Cup. But not without a big fight. Under his captaincy, they took on every other team and walked in as underdogs. What happened next is history. They won the cup honoring India making the his team, the champions.

But those times were different. Cricketers played for the sheer passion of the game. There were hardly any endorsements and cricketers had alternate jobs to being just cricketers. This in turn meant that players played 100 percent for the country when they did get their chance to and also for their love for the game. My mother often tells me that cricketers had alternate jobs too and when the season was over, they went back to being a part of the junta. Nowadays, we're stuck with players who are seen making Crores via endorsing brands and scoring nil on the field. It's probably wrong to make comparisons, but it is vital to do just that. With M.S. Dhoni as captain of the current Indian team, India has done gosh darn well. Today, Team India stands strong and in quite a viable place to win the World Cup. Thus far, the team has performed pretty well under M.S. Dhoni's captaincy and while Dhoni may just take India to the finals, even win the cup, he will never be like Kapil Dev. Dhoni is in fact, known for being one arrogant fellow. Humility is hardly a trait he has (or ever will) master. In fact, I can almost imagine his arrogance level to reach further heights if India wins the cup. But what is it that separates the boy (Dhoni) from the men (Dev). Here's my five reasons.

Brain vs. Heart

You may need a brain to play and win, but what's the point if you're heart isn't in it? Yes, Dhoni know the tactics, the skills and the tricks to win matches, but Kapil Dev, known for being an incredibly emotionally charged player, showed that it was beyond just that. Besides knowing the much-needed skills required to win matches, he did lead the 1983 squad to victory, he played dilon jaan se. How often do you see Dhoni coming out on the field and playing not for any other reason but sheer love of the game?

Societal Changes

Times have changed from 1983. In those days, there was hardly any pressure for the Indian team to perform. In fact, the public and even government didn't regard cricket as anything worthy of importance. And thus, with lack of support from Indians and the government, the Indian cricket team went about playing with absolutely zero expectations. And so, it may have been a lot easier to win the World Cup in that sense. Now however, the team faces immense pressure from not only the fans, who literally get ugly when a match is lost, but also from the Cricket Council in India and even the government who have their political agendas in store. What's most interesting is Dhoni's indifferent attitude towards any external pressure he receives. In fact we see him often claiming that he couldn't really careless about those pressures...just not in those words exactly.

All Rounder Factor

When making comparisons, it's important to discuss the real deal: skill. There is no denying Dhoni as a class wicket keeper and a hit quite a few runs. However, everyone knows that if India has produced one truly all rounder, it is in fact, Kapil Dev. Not only was he known for his great bowling, often taking India out of iffy situations via crucial wickets but even hitting vital runs when most needed. If that wasn't enough, he was one helluva fielder putting even younger players on the team to shame at times.

The Teams

We're talking about two totally different teams with regards to the 1983 team and the 2011 team. Kapil Dev lead a team which had great all rounders including the captain and ex-Indian coach Madan Lal. Unfortunately, the current team is limited with its all rounders. The 2011 team only has Yuvraj Singh as it's complete all rounder so to speak. While the 1983 squad found themselves filled with full time spinners, the current team finds itself stuck with part-time spinners to do most of the hard work. Keeping that in mind, the 2011 team finds themselves with a lot more work to do in order to win the cup.


Some teeny tiny details nitty-grittys too can be spotted. For starters, Dev was much more of an emotional soul while Dhoni is known for being a tad bit hot headed when the situation demands it. And the game has changed too. From a 60 over game, the matches are now 50 overs; the boundary lines have been bought in by a whole 10 yards; and lastly, cricketers are equipped with the best equipment money can buy from the biggest sponsors in the world.

Maybe it's unfair to the compare the Men in Blue (2011 squad) to the Men in Moustaches (1983 squad). Times have changed but despite all odds, the 1983 team walked in as underdogs and won the title. Our team today have walked in as favorites and have done everything to come to the semis. What will happen now? Time will tell. Until then, all we can hope is that Dhoni will take some inspiration and gyaan from Kapil Dev only to play a game for the country, for the team and for his passion for the sport.


Kaju said...

Excellent article. Its very disturbing to see the news channels scroll " Who is the best Indian Captain of all times?" I don't think its really fair to compare the 1983 squad with 60 to 1 odds and the 2011 squad with 3 to 1(after the league stages). 1983 was the best underdog story ever and we are all big suckers for underdog victories. I think cricket in India is like this today because of Kapil Dev. He is nothing short of a legend and is aptly the father of Indian cricket. This doesn't undermine what Dhoni has achieved, hes a brilliant leader and has a fantastic instinct for the game. What both these chaps have achieved should never be compared against each other for greatness. Having said that, I like the way your post has put it" the best captain is one who plays with his heart and gives a 100% to the game and to his country"

Anonymous said...

in my opinion , kapil dev was the best cricketer india has ever produced .in fact he was an all rounder , better than sachin or that time cricketers played by heart .now they just give some stupid shitty endrosements and earn crores ,while their score on the field is nil.both dhoni and sachin suck.


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