They say time has the potential to erase things off your mind, but if 13 years isn’t enough to erase a memory from your heart then it surely is a celestial event etched in history!
July 13th 2002, the day Indian cricket fans would never forget – The NatWest Final.
The atmosphere at the Lord’s Stadium was electric with two determined teams on the pitch.
The English begin their batting and Marcus Trescothick bats like a man with a purpose. Then the game saw its first wicket fall. Then in a move that surprised everyone, Nasser Hussain walks out of the Lord’s Pavilion. It was a sight to behold, Nasser Hussain taking the Indian bowlers to the cleaners, scoring a spectacular 115 from 128 balls and who would forget the celebration where he pointed to the back of his jersey signifying the number 3 as he was criticized by the media especially Ian Botham due to his dismal performance at that position. Coupled with Trescothick’s run a ball ton and Hussain’s gem of an innings, England posted a mammoth 325 runs on the board.
Then it was the turn of the gritty Indians to prove their worth, boasting the likes of Tendulkar, Ganguly, Sehwag and Dravid in their ranks, capable of chasing down any total on their day. The chase began on a bright note with India reaching 100-1 in just 12 overs, thanks to Ganguly’s breezy 60 of just 43 balls. Then the game witnessed the big Indian collapse, India slumped to 146-5 with Sachin departing.
The responsibility of the towering run chase was bestowed upon two youngsters – Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif.
As Kaif came into bat, Hussain exclaimed “Come on guys, they’ve sent the bus driver in, we’ve got a chance here!’. Then Kaif and Yuvraj started playing their natural attacking game.
Come the 35th over and the match saw its biggest turning point. The umpire Steve Bucknor ordered for a ball change at a time when the ball was reversing like a top and England had bowlers like Darren Gough and Andrew Flintoff who were master exponents of the reverse swing. The hard ball made it easier for the batsmen to free their arms and play attacking cricket.
Finally Kaif and Yuvraj started getting the better of the England bowling, scripting a win that would be remembered for generations to come.
What followed after winning the game is remembered the most. The iconic celebration by Saurav ‘Dada’ Ganguly, removing his jersey and twirling it in the air in reply to the similar antic Flintoff had performed at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai!
In the end, that NatWest Final will go down as one of the greatest matches in cricket history, concluded with an aplomb with India winning the game and also bragging rights.