When Mohammad Kaif had joined Yuvraj Singh in the middle during the historic 2002 Natwest Trophy final at Lord’s, he had been called a “bus driver” by England captain Nasser Hussain. Eighteen years after that memorable run chase, Kaif and Nasser Hussain fondly recalled how the day changed Indian cricket and how one of the main architects of the chase had been welcomed to the crease as a bus driver.
Speaking on a Sky Sports podcast, Hussain said, “It’s the greatest innings the lad (Kaif) played. He will be remembered for that. When he came in, there was a bit of a sledge. We had got the Fab Five out already. Somebody said, ‘Who’s this then, Skip?’ I said, ‘I think he must drive the bus. I think he drives Tendulkar around on the bus.”
“When he hit the winning runs, ‘not bad for a bus driver’ – he gave me that sort of a look,” he said with a laugh.
— Mohammad Kaif (@MohammadKaif) May 16, 2020
Speaking about how the day changed Indian cricket, Hussain said, “Because it was done by those two (Kaif and Yuvraj Singh). If it had been Sehwag and Tendulkar, it would have been fine. But the fact that it was done by two relatively unknown cricketers was a big boost for Indian cricket.”
Kaif, who had earlier revealed on Twitter that Hussain had called him a bus driver that day, replied to the former England captain’s comments on Saturday. “Thanks to that innings the bus driver drives a convertible now,” Kaif said.
For fans across the globe, the Natwest final was, in many ways, India’s war cry that their new brigade had arrived and were here to stay. After winning the toss England won the toss and opted to bat first. Riding on twin centuries by ME Trescothick and N Hussain (c), England posted a mammoth 325/5. In reply, India were stuttering at 146/5. But from thereon a brilliant partnership between Yuvraj Singh and Kaif steered India home. Kaif remained unbeaten on 87 as India chased down the total with just 3 balls to spare.
India won a thrilling final and as emotions ran high Indian captain Sourav Ganguly waved his shirt from the Lord’s balcony – an incident which would turn out to be one of the most iconic moments in Indian cricket history. Back then India’s epic run chase 326 was the second highest successful run chase in one-day international history.