2002 NatWest Series Final: Kaif-Yuvraj partnership, Ganguly's celebration changed Indian cricket in more ways than one

Avinash Sharma
·3-min read

New Delhi, July 13: There are certain memories which are deeply embedded in our minds and a mere mention of such moments triggers the nostalgia and gives us goosebumps. One such memory for Indian cricket fans is the historic NatWest Trophy 2002 final between India and hosts England.

It was one of those games that changed the perception of cricket experts towards the Sourav Ganguly-led Indian side. There had been several iconic victories from the teams of the past but there was something about that historic win. It ushered the dawn of a new era in Indian Cricket as the Men In Blue started dominating and started winning tournaments overseas.

It was the moment when the young guns of Indian cricket started coming out of the shadows of big stars like Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble and Rahul Dravid. The youngsters still had a long way to go, but the young Indian cricketers stopped being intimidated by the big names in the opposition.

Chasing a daunting target of 326, Virender Sehwag and captain Ganguly gave India a brisk start. Ganguly scored a quickfire 60 before getting dismissed in the 15th over and by then India had already crossed the 100-run mark. But the floodgates were opened soon after, as the Men In Blue lost five more wickets in a gap of 11 overs and just 40 runs were added to the scoreboard. England bowlers and as well as the English supporters seemed assured of a big win.

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Things had fallen on the shoulders of young Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif and they joined hands for a match-changing partnership. The duo - who had played together since U-19 days - first stemmed the fall of wickets and kept the scoreboard ticking with their quick running between the wickets. Together the duo stitched 121-run stand and brought India back in the contest.

Full Scorecard

But Yuvraj fell in the 42nd over for 69 and India were still shy of 59 in the remaining eight overs. Kaif, however, didn't give up and scored an unbeaten 87 to take India home with Zaheer Khan at the other end for a historic win.

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The Allahabad cricketer, many years later, revealed that he too had once thought that the match was over after Yuvraj's dismissal but he kept believing in himself and led India to a famous win.

"When you (Yuvraj) got out, I thought the match is gone. I did not think we will win... I was set, you were there. So I believed if we played till the end India will win. But you got out and India lost hope and my heart broke," Kaif said in an Instagram live chat with Yuvraj during the lockdown imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That historic win is also remembered for captain Ganguly's shirt waving celebration at the Lord's balcony. In the hindsight, it could be debated whether that display of aggression was a bit over the top.

There are two most iconic memories of Indian Cricket at the Lord's, the first one being Kapil Dev lifting the 1983 Prudential World Cup, and the second Ganguly going shirtless and waving it off from the balcony in that summer of 2002. Both the images are very strong sent and they definitely changed Indian cricket forever in more ways than one.

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