Indian cricket fans, let us take you down the memory lane and let cricket nostalgia hit you. Y’all clearly remember the cherish the 2002 Natwest Trophy series, especially the finals, don’t you? For the sheer quality of cricket portrayed there, it was one of the greatest One-Day Internationals.
The victory at Lord’s – on the backs of the stupendous knocks by Mohammed Kaif and Yuvraj Singh – remains special for more reasons than one. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration if we said that match bought an uplifting change in Indian cricket. Are you ready for some cricket nostalgia?
Here we go!
After edging Sri Lanka out, it was India and England to face each other in the finals of the tri-series and everybody had already assumed that the hosts will sweep away the trophy.
Opener Marcus Trescothick got 109 and skipper Nasser Hussain scored 115 as England finished with 325/5 in 50 overs, a total that was considered destructive score in those days. Hussain, under pressure, headed into the match and his celebration after scoring a century – tapping his name on the back of the jersey with his helmet – went on to be quite famous.
At the halfway of the match, it felt like India were heading towards another defeat. Sourav Ganguly, who was leading the Indian team, accepts years later that there was a building pressure in the dressing room and the morale of the players hit a low during the innings break.
“I was very sad. I felt 260-270 was fine but there was a big difference between that and a score of 300-plus,” Ganguly told Star Sports. “I had gotten into a fight with our coach John Wright, who remains a dear friend of mine, a few days earlier and I told him then that I wasn’t interested in talking to him. We just so upset that we let them get past 300.”
Ganguly told Virender Sehwag that they must try to score 100 runs in the first 15 overs without losing a wicket. And that’s what exactly they did – Ganguly (60 off 43) and Sehwag (45 off 49) struck the ball astonishingly to give just the right start that India needed.
However, just as Indian fans were ecstatic to the thought of a sensational win, the match went downhill for the men in blue. From 104/0in 14 overs, India went to 147/5 at the end of the 24th. The visitors had lost five wickets in just ten overs for 47 runs. Sachin Tendulkar was the last wicket to fall, playing an incomprehensible shot that still haunts the Indian fans. At that point, the hosts felt like their victory was inevitable.
But that’s when two young guns stepped in the field and got together to write one of the most famous turnarounds in ODI cricket history. Yes, we know you have goosebumps as you reminisce the historic day. Even we had butterflies in our gut while penning this down for you.
Kaif was 21 at that time and Yuvraj Singh was a year younger to him. Till that match, both the players had played enough to showcase their talent on the biggest-stage, but none of them had emerged as a match-winner. But the maturity and confidence they showed on the crease was far beyond their age and experience.
They added 121 runs for the sixth wicket in less than 18 overs, judging the ball well and picking the right deliveries. By the time Yuvraj lost his wicket for a 63-ball 69, India had reached 267/6 in 41.4 overs. India still needed 60 runs to win from 50 balls and Kaif had to rely only on the tail enders. Kaif, in a chat with Singh, admitted that he thought Indian would lose the match one the left-handed batsman got out.
“When you (Singh) got out, I thought the match is gone. I did not think we will win,” Kaif said. “I was set, you were there. So I believed if we played till the end India would will. But you got out and India lost hope and my heart broke.”
Having said that, Kaif didn’t let the turn of events break his heart. He went on to conquer and how! The right-hander fastened his belts and put on an aggressive mode only to finish seamlessly with 87 off 75 to take his team home with two wickets and three balls to spare. That picture of Kaif and Zaheer Khan completing the last run with their hands in air is etched in our minds forever.
Didn’t we tell you we’ll be taking you on a cricket nostalgia trip today? You can thank us later.
As if that moment wasn’t iconic enough, the former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly took off his shirt and waved in the air at he Lord’s balcony. Yuvraj and Tendulkar admitted later on that the team wasn’t aware of the captain’s gesture but had a great laugh about it later on.
The present BCCI President’s celebration, obviously, was in response to something similar England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff had done after an ODI victory at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai earlier that year.
The unforgettable victory at Lord’s on July 13th, 2002, had a great impact on Indian cricket as a whole. India wasn’t used to pulling off such high-stake chases back then and the efforts of Kaif and Singh, along with the never-say-die attitude of the Captain Sourav Ganguly, helped instil an enormous amount of belief in the men in blue. It also marked a new beginning of a new era for India’s ODI side – one in which young aggressors took the centre stage.
Now that you’ve read so far about the iconic match, are you missing the live action? Well, we’ve got you covered. Watch the extended highlights of 2002 Natwest Trophy final here:
How did you find our little tour of cricket nostalgia? Let us know your favourite moment from the 2002 Natwest Trophy finals in the comments below.
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