83: Did Kapil Dev use a mongoose bat to create his world record in 1983 World Cup?
'Talwar nikal (Bring out the sword)' Kapil Dev tells Yashpal Sharma in a crucial scene in the film '83', before the Indian captain goes berserk. This 'talwar' was a Slazenger WG bat.
'83' - the film celebrating Kapil Dev's Indian cricket team's World Cup victory in 1983 - has released to glowing reviews. There have been plenty of talking points from the film, with older generations getting nostalgic about tiny historical details presented in the film and newer generations getting to see how the Indian cricket team used to be before the days of superstardom.
One of the most poignant scenes in the film is the one where Kapil Dev scores 175 - a new world record for the highest individual ODI score - to rescue India from 17/5 against Zimbabwe. That mythical innings at Nevill Ground, Tunbridge Wells on June 18, 1983, which was never telecast because television crews chose to cover other matches, now has a tangible recreation - even if only on theatre screens and Netflix for now.
Syed Kirmani is seen in the film giving a pep-talk to Kapil as he joins him as India's number 9, with India staring at defeat. 'Maar ke marne ka hai (we will go down fighting)', Kirmani recalled telling Kapil at a publicity event for the film. Kapil then goes berserk, scoring more than 80% of the runs in an unbroken stand with the Indian wicketkeeper. His historical knock included 16 fours and six sixes.
The Slazenger WG bat and the mongoose connection
'Talwar nikal' - Kapil tells Yashpal Sharma in the Indian dressing room at Lunch in one of the scenes in the film. Kapil is then seen using a bat that has been mentioned in some reviews of the film and some incredulous fans on social media as a 'mongoose bat' - an innovative bat which came in vogue for a short time a few years ago.
However, the bat Kapil uses was just known as a Slazenger WG bat at that point (no mention of any mongoose), a new 'shoulder-less model' the bat company had come up with. It had a shorter blade than most bats in use then, with the bat being described by the sellers as having 'extra power in the hitting area'. The idea behind shortening the blade was to keep the overall weight of the bat the same.
It was this same technology - but exaggerated further to suit the needs of T20 cricket that the mongoose bat came into use in the 21st century. Designed and manufactured by the British company Mongoose, this was a bat with a handle 43% longer.
Matthew Hayden used it in IPL 2010 and it had some takers for a few years, before it fell off because of being severely unsuited to defensive batting.
The dressing room scene
The scene in the middle of his 175 where Kapil asks for the 'talwar' is also possibly not entirely true to reality, though it does add to the narrative. When Kapil had entered the dressing room, it had been empty, as he recounted at a publicity event for the film, and so Yashpal Sharma would not have been there.
He was fuming at his top order's capitulation and was preparing to blast them. An unidentified senior player of the team had anticipated this and the team's batsmen were hiding in an ante-room at Lunch to stay as far away from the main hall as possible till Kapil went out again.
Kapil's 175 has been overtaken several times since but it remains the highest score till date by a batsman batting at six or lower in an ODI.
His unbroken partnership of 126* with Kirmani is the only instance of a 100-plus stand for the ninth wicket in World Cup history. It also remains the highest percentage of runs scored by an Indian batsman in a completed ODI innings.