Eighteen years ago on this day at Lord’s, India defied all odds to beat England in the final of the NatWest series, with Mohammad Kaif and Yuvraj Singh combining to secure the victory. What followed was an unforgettable celebration from Sourav Ganguly on the Lord’s balcony – an iconic moment in the annals of Indian cricket.
Recently, former South Africa captain Graeme Smith said that Ganguly’s nature of giving it back to the opposition is what set him a cut apart from other Indian captains.
“You knew if you poked Dada, you were going to get something back always,” Smith said on the Cricket Connected Show on Star Sports.
“I have spent a fair amount of time with Dada now. Particularly in administration now, we are having a number of conversations over the telephone. He is always calm and approachable, always interested in a good conversation.”
Smith recalled Ganguly’s epic celebration at Lord’s and said, “It showed how much India winning meant to him and to overcome the challenge of winning the NatWest Trophy in England, to win away from home, driving Indian cricket forward.
I think that shot epitomises everything we have discussed today. But I do have a chuckle every time I see it now. Also, Dada was running short on the hair side on those days, so it is a very humorous shot. But from a passion perspective, that speaks volumes about Dada.”
BCCI President Sourav Ganguly took charge of the Indian cricket team when it was undergoing a tumultuous phase after the match-fixing saga. But under his leadership, cricket in India witnessed a paradigm shift as youngsters like Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, got the license to build their careers.
The young guns repaid their captain’s faith in equal measure with one of the most memorable wins in the history of Indian cricket.
If Kolkata 2001 changed the face of Indian cricket in the Test arena, the Natwest series final in 2002 marked the transformation in ODIs.
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