The Natwest Trophy final in 2002 is considered one of India’s greatest victories in the 50-over format. It was not the big names of the side that won India the final, but two youngsters who played the innings of their lives to chase an imposing target of 326.
Batting first on a flat deck at Lord’s, the English batsmen were superb on the day, led by their fired up captain Nasser Hussain. He, along with Marcus Trescothick dominated the Indian bowling and in the process, put together a massive partnership of 185 for the second wicket. The England innings finished at 325 for 5, with an aggressive 40 by Andrew Flintoff.
The Indian openers came out and asserted themselves during the field restrictions, by attacking the fast bowlers. Virender Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly put on 106 runs for the first wicket, before the India captain was bowled by Alex Tudor for 60. England capitalised, and within a span of 40 runs, India lost the wickets of Sehwag, Dinesh Mongia, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar. With the score at 146 for 5, an Indian loss seemed inevitable, but both Yuvraj and Kaif had other plans.
Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif put on a beautiful exhibition of big hitting and quick running between the wickets to put on a massive 121 run partnership for the sixth wicket. After scoring a fantastic half-century, Yuvraj top-edged a sweep shot and was caught at fine-leg. The score was 267 for 6 during the 42nd over, and the required run-rate was above 7 runs per over. Kaif, who played the deputy role in the previous partnership, took charge and started playing some strokes. He was assisted by Harbhajan Singh, who scored a quickfire 15 to get India close. Harbhajan and Anil Kumble got out in the 48th over, but the next over from Darren Gough went for nine runs, leaving India with just two to get in the final over. A quick single and an overthrow run on the third ball got India home to the massive target of 326, registering a historic run chase.
An iconic day for Indian cricket, as two youngsters engineered a fantastic run chase and Ganguly’s delirious shirt swinging on the balcony of the Lord’s Cricket Ground will be an image no cricket fan will ever forget.