Fans and critics often had complaints against Kapil’s batting, but big hitting was not one of them. Between 1978 and 1994 – an era when ODI batting strategy was still breaking away from the shadow of Test cricket – he scored at a strike rate of 95. Of his 15 scores in excess of fifty, only one came at slower than a run a ball.
Here, in Brisbane, he had come out at 84-5, but that did not prevent him from assuming his normal self: he was already on 39 by the time the next wicket fell, on 136, after 40 overs.
The Indian batting ended at No.9 (only Yograj Singh and Dilip Doshi followed after that), but when had any of that stopped Kapil from hitting? When Coney came to bowl his medium-pace, Kapil responded with an enormous six over long-on.
Coney pitched it up again. This one, straighter than the previous shot, disappeared over the ropes – well pushed back, in those days – as well. Kapil was on 51 now.
Coney applauded the milestone. Then, as Kapil waited, he conjured a white handkerchief and waved it at Kapil in mock surrender. It was not unexpected of Coney, a man renowned for his sense of humour, much of which is on display in his delightful autobiography, The Playing Mantis.
None of that had any impact on Kapil, who attempted a wild slog off the next ball and missed. The next ball raced to the fine-leg fence.
Kapil was eventually eighth out for a 51-ball 75. India were bowled out a run later, for 204. Coney had the last laugh, for he top-scored with an unbeaten 47 to see New Zealand to a three-wicket win.