Revisiting the Team India's historical 2002 Natwest Series win
Team India began their 2018 tour of England with an emphatic T-20 series victory and also winning the first ODI. The series brings back some good memories to Indian fans and as well as the cricket fans. Back in 2002, Team India had created history with one of the most exciting finishes in the ODI history.
July 13, 2002, will be etched into the minds of every Indian Cricket fan forever. That day brought one of the most fan-favourite moments in the Indian Cricket history. Zaheer Khan hit the final 2 runs in the Natwest Series final and sealed the first ODI series win in England for India in a historic run chase.
It was not Ganguly or Sachin Tendulkar or Rahul Dravid that won the final for India, but it was the two young and coming players, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif, who showed some mettle under immense pressure while chasing a steep total of 326 against a formidable England's bowling attack.
This tour of England foreshadowed the 2003 World Cup performance of team India. But, this tour has also unearthed the hidden jewels for team India in the form of Mohammed Kaif and Yuvraj Singh, the heroes of this final are among them.
The Road to Final
The 2002 Indian team can be touted as one of the golden teams in international cricket. The team comprised of the Master-Blaster Tendulkar, Skipper, who is fondly called Dada, Saurav Ganguly, and The Wall, Dravid.
The bowling unit was led by the veteran Anil Kumble and pace bowling is led by two young lads in Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra. Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh were also part of this amazing squad along with Yuvraj and Kaif.
Team India began their England tour with the Natwest tri-series along with England and Sri Lanka. India opened the ODI series with victories over Sri Lanka and England, but their second game against England got washed out and lose the third game against them. Team India would sweep Sri Lanka and set up the final against England.
Sachin Tendulkar played a pivotal role in India's road to the final by scoring two centuries one against each team. The bowlers led by Zaheer Khan had a great time picking up wickets in regular intervals.
The Final Moments
India didn't start the final as well as they would have wanted to start. Having lost the toss and forced to bowl first, Marcus Trescothick was his usual dominant self to start with by attacking the Indian bowlers from the get-go. Zaheer Khan got rid of struggling Nick Knight early but couldn't use the momentum in picking up more wickets.
Nasser Hussain who came in to replace Knight didn't have to do much but just watch Trescothick excoriate the Indian bowling. Ganguly was forced to bring spinners earlier, which didn't net much success. Hussain who was slow to start saw the window open with Ganguly coming into the attack. Ganguly's spell in which they scored 28 runs allowed Hussain to get settled in.
Hussain and Trescothick put on the partnership of 185 off just 177 balls for the second wicket. Trescothick scored his century in just 89 balls helping England post a mammoth 325 runs on the board, which is a record for a Lord's final.
The openers for Team India, Ganguly and Virender Sehwag came out and established themselves by attacking the bowlers. They put on a 106 first wicket partnership, with Ganguly racing to his fifty in just 35 balls.
The chase felt like set to be on the right course for India until Alex Tudor got rid of Ganguly for 60 and Team India lost five wickets in the nine overs for just 40 runs.
The Tendulkar wicket swung the momentum to England's favour and the pressure fell on the young Indian duo of Yuvraj and Kaif. With pressure on their shoulders, Yuvraj and Kaif played a much-balanced game instead of smashing quick runs as they were used to do. They put on a 121 partnership off just 106 balls for the sixth wicket.
After an amazing knock, Yuvraj got out caught at fine-leg. With the required run rate at above seven runs an over and only four wickets remaining, Kaif took over for departed Yuvraj and went after the bowlers.
Kaif, who just scored his fifty before Yuvraj's wicket, remained unbeaten by scoring 87 in just 75 balls. Kaif got a much-needed cameo from Harbhajan who scored 15 off 13 balls.
After Harbhajan and Kumble got out in 48th over, Kaif, who won the man of the match, went after Darren Gough in the next over for nine runs leaving India with just two runs to score in the final over.
A quick two runs by the Zaheer Khan in the final over sealed the victory and complete the historic run chase.
This victory has put an everlasting memory into the minds of Indian cricket fans. After the final runs, captain Saurav Ganguly took off his shirt and swung it in the balcony of the world famous Lords Stadium, returning the favour to Andrew Flintoff who took off his shirt in Wankhede Stadium in a previous tour.
It has also given a much-needed momentum for Team India going into the test series against England. India, who struggled in overseas in test matches, would eventually draw the 4-match series 1-1.
This India tour of England also helped Team India as a preparation for 2003 world cup in which team India would end up being Runners-up for the champions Australia.
The series also kick-started the careers of Yuvraj and Kaif, who etched their names into the record book at one of the oldest cricket venues.
Yuvraj would go on to become one of the most beloved superstars for team India. He helped India win the 2011 World cup where he won the Player of the series.
Kaif, the hero of this match, though couldn't enjoy the kind of success Yuvraj had, but will forever be remembered for this amazing match-winning performance, a record run chase in one of the oldest cricket stadiums, which many cannot brag about.
Do you think this is India's most famous win to date? Sound off your opinions in the comments section below!