There are so many things about July 13, 2002 that stand out in the memory of an Indian cricket fan or just a regular cricket fan. There was the comeback victory, there was the madness filled celebrations and the rise of two youngsters from a team playing under tough away conditions with their backs against the wall. The team in question here is India playing against England at Lord’s in the final of the 50-over NatWest Trophy. The youngsters in reference to here being Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif. Sure Sourav Ganguly’s over enthusiastic, shirt removing celebrations at the Mecca of Cricket left many upset, but for India it was a moment to rejoice and celebrate they did.
Batting first England were never really perturbed by the Indian bowling attack of Ashish Nehra, Zaheer Khan, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh despite ‘Zak’ taking three wickets by the end. Marcus Trescothick and Nasser Hussain provided the early launchpad by stitching together a partnership of 185 runs for the second wicket with the left-hander scoring 109 runs and the England captain scoring 115 runs. If that wasn’t enough, Andrew Flintoff provided the late surge with 40 runs from 32 balls to help England to 325 runs.
In reply, Virender Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly provided India a strong start of 106 runs but soon enough they were in trouble at 146/5 with Dinesh Mongia, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid all dismissed. The control of the ship in troubled waters now fell on 21-year-old Yuvraj Singh and 22-year-old Mohammad Kaif. The beauty of their 121 run partnership stood in their level-headed approach to a mammoth task – needing 180 runs in 26 overs. The duo paced the innings smartly to remain steady when needed and go into attacking mode when the opportunity presented itself.
However, the drama and thrill was not yet complete. Yuvraj fell to Paul Collingwood in the 42nd over with 59 runs still to get and four wickets left. Harbhajan chipped in with 15 but Kumble went for a duck. That left Kaif and Zaheer Khan in the middle with 12 runs to get in two overs. The nerve-racking finish was complete with three deliveries to spare when an overthrow allowed Kaif to complete the second and winning run.