The date was 9 July 2002 when India was playing the host nation, England, in the Natwest ODI series. Due to rain, the game had been reduced to 32 overs for each side and England had put up 229 runs on board and in reply, India suffered a grand collapse, and thanks to RC Irani’s 5 wicket haul, India was all out at just 165 runs and England won the match by quite a comfortable margin of 65 runs. A couple of days later, arrived the Natwest 2002 Final.
On 13 July 2002, India met England again but this time in the all-important finale of the Natwest 2002 ODI Series. This mouth-watering clash took place in the Mecca of Cricket, the Lords Cricket Ground. The setting was perfect.
Nasser Hussain won the toss and chose to bat first.
Zaheer Khan gave India the first breakthrough in the form of NV Knight who was bowled in the 8th over. England may have lost a wicket in the starting overs but they were quick to bounce back up. What followed afterward was utter frustration for the Indian team as Trescothick and Nasser Hussain stitched up a brilliant 185 run partnership.
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Trescothick smashed a six in the 10th over which was followed by two fours in the 11th over. It was the 2nd ball of the 15th over, Trescothick took a double and completed his composed half-century in 41 balls. The 20th over saw Harbhajan Singh being smashed for two back to back boundaries and by the end of the 20th over, England was at a comfortable position at 124/1 having a run rate of 6+.
During this frustrating partnership, Ganguly tried 7 bowlers but to no avail. Nasser Hussain completed his half-century in the 27th over and Trescothick brought up his fine century in the 34th over. The men in blue had no reply to the duo and runs continued to come as easy as a pie for the host team.
Finally, Anil Kumble gave India the much-needed breakthrough in the 37th over when Trescothick had to go back to the pavilion after scoring solid 109 runs. Nasser Hussain took a single off the last ball of the 45th over which brought up the first and only ODI century of his career. Fast forward, England had put up a daunting total of 325 runs. Unlike the present era where chasing 300+ scores doesn’t seem scary, at that time chasing 300+ was a big thing.Embed from Getty Images
What happened afterwards? Did England dominate the Lord’s ground or did India chase down the big total? Let’s find out.
Virender Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly were the openers. Opposed to his natural game, Sehwag started slow but Ganguly was in a mood of his own. Ganguly was firing big time and by the end of the 10th over, Ganguly had reached 42 runs in just 28 balls and India got the start they wanted, 67/0.
13th over was massive destruction from the visitors as Sehwag humiliated Irani with four fours in that over. India crossed 100 runs without losing even a single wicket. The perfect start?
In the third ball of the 15th over, Alex Tudor broke the partnership as he bowled out Ganguly. Ganguly went back after having a spirited knock of 60 runs off just 43 balls.
Unlike with England where the fall of the first wicket was followed by a huge 185 run partnership, here in India’s innings, the first wicket was met by a massive batting collapse. From 115/1, the score became 146/5 and India lost their next 4 wickets in a span of just 51 balls, and the hope that India could win this match after an excellent start faded away. India was neck-deep in trouble and the young duo of Kaif and Yuvraj Singh had the responsibility on their shoulders to do some damage control.Embed from Getty Images
Half the match was left and India was already in the backfoot. Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif maintained their composure in a pressure situation and slowly the runs started to come on board. They rotated the strike and slowly and slowly, the hope started to rebuild itself.
The required run-rate started to increase and by the end of the 37th over, the required run-rate had shot up to 8.07. By the end of the 37th over, India was at 221/5 and they still needed 105 runs in the next 13 overs.
Fortunately for India, big overs started to follow. Yuvraj Singh smashed Flintoff for three consecutive fours in the 38th over which was followed by two boundaries in the next over by Kaif. Yuvraj Singh’s heroic inning of 69 runs came to an end after he top-edged Collingwood in the 42nd over. Harbhajan Singh was the new man in.Embed from Getty Images
The wicket fall didn’t affect Kaif as he hit Irani for a six in the 43rd over. Harbhajan Singh became his partner in crime as he hit a six in the next over. From being at 146/5 and later having the required run rate at 8.07, India bounced back up amazingly and victory started to look like a very probable thing now.
Kaif hit two fours in the 47th over and by the end of the 47th over, India needed just 14 runs off 18 balls with 4 wickets remaining. What a fightback! The match miraculously was now in the bag of the visitors. Kaif and Yuvraj had certainly brought India back on track and it were the Englishmen who were feeling the pressure now.
When it was finally looking bright and easy for India, things took a big u-turn as Flintoff took the wickets of Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble in a span of three balls and all of a sudden, India were reduced to 314/8. By the end of the 48th over, 11 runs were still needed and to India’s dismay, Zaheer Khan was on strike. It was an intense moment in the match.
Zaheer Khan took a single and Kaif came on strike! Relief! On the last ball of the over, Kaif hit Darren Gough for a four which swung the match in India’s favor, if it wasn’t already, and now just 2 runs were needed off the last over. Things weren’t as simple as that as Zaheer Khan was on strike for the last over. Did England strike and took the wickets, taking the advantage of having a bowler on strike or did India complete a historic win and win the coveted Natwest Series?
49.1- Dot Ball!
49.2- Dot Ball!
Everyone’s heartbeat could be heard clearly. It was an intense moment in the match. Zaheer Khan had to score those two runs.
All eyes were glued to Zaheer Khan. 2 runs needed off the last four balls and Zaheer Khan on strike.
49.3- Double!!! Two runs!!! INDIA WON!!!Embed from Getty Images
India won not just the match but the Natwest Trophy! Ganguly took off his shirt and waved it from the iconic Lords balcony as a savage reply to Flintoff waving his shirt in an earlier match and oh boy, what an iconic moment it was! Can you see the picture of Ganguly’s shirt in the featured image at the start of this post? That was the shirt which he hurled! That shirt hurling from Lords Balcony continued to be a sight cherished by Indian fans even now! What a scintillating match!
Thanks to Kaif and Yuvraj, we not only witnessed a memorable match played at the Mecca of Cricket but also won the coveted Natwest Trophy.Embed from Getty Images
Feature Image:- ms kadu from United Kingdom / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)
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