Champions Trophy final: Dhoni's team evokes spirit of Natwest 2002

Ashish Magotra, Jun, 23 2013

For a few moments transport yourself to the moment when India will hit the winning runs at Birmingham (Yes, we will win it, we must). At that moment, Mahendra Singh Dhoni will leap up in the dressing room, pull off his jersey and wave it in the air, screaming words that are best left untold.

Well, knowing Dhoni, he probably won't do a Sourav Ganguly; he probably won't do what the then Indian skipper did as Mohammad Kaif and Zaheer Khan scampered through for the second run after an overthrow to mark what seemed like an impossible... improbable win.

But there is so much about this team; about this tournament that evokes the spirit of Natwest 2002, that it's hard to believe that Dhoni won't be tempted to give us a repeat performance.

Dhoni won't mention it, he never does. But there will be a touch of sweet revenge if India does win. India's recent troubles started with a Test tour of England — the 4-0 result was dismissed as an aberration by many, including the players. But the following results showed that the rot has set it. Then England came to India and did what many considered impossible — beat India in India.

Kaif took India to victory with a brilliant knock. Getty Images

Kaif took India to victory with a brilliant knock. Getty Images

Of course, no one in the England team did a Andrew Flintoff either — remember the way he ran around the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai after squaring the one-day series in India. That hurt Ganguly. Truth to be told, the celebrations of the England players after their recent Test series win in India almost hurt as much. So, come on Dhoni — let your hair down again, go a little wild.

The chief architects of the Natwest win were two youngsters who had collectively spent just 42 years on the planet. Yuvraj Singh (69 off 63 balls) and Mohammad Kaif (87 off 75 balls) became household names that day — their 121-run partnership after India had been reduced to 146-5 restored our faith and our pride in stunning fashion.

The current stars aren't that young. But the side itself has an average age of 25 and that's good enough for us. The promise and potential are real. We now believe that life after Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan... won't be as grim as we once imagined.

With Ganguly, there was a sense that they would fight for every inch, every run and never back down. The spirit was a revelation in its own right. And credit for that had to be given to the skipper, whose attitude never allowed for anything less than a win.

Just as Ganguly was in 2002, Dhoni has been the driving force of this team. The differences between the two are articulated in greater detail here. But their effect on the team is pretty much the same.

The Indian team stands on the cusp of a great era but for their confidence to be cemented, nothing less than a victory will do. Natwest 2002 changed the rules for India in ODIs, just as Kolkata 2001 changed the rules in Tests. It made us believe that no total was safe against an India team that could rely on its youngsters and expect the seniors to play their role to perfection.

After England won against South Africa in the semi-finals, Jonathan Trott was asked what it meant for the team to reach the final. His answer was simple and to the point: "Getting to the final means nothing if you can't win it."

And that is something this India team must take to heart too. Many of the heroes of India's World Cup triumph are now out of the team or retired. It's time for the new generation to make its mark as well. Surely, a video of the 2002 Natwest Final can provide them with all the inspiration they need ahead of the day.

And if victory does come our way, some shirt twirling is in order too.

Published Date: Jun 22, 2013 | Updated Date: Jun 23, 2013

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 4493 125
2 South Africa 3395 110
3 England 4097 105
4 Australia 3087 100
5 New Zealand 3114 97
Rank Team Points Rating
1 South Africa 5957 119
2 Australia 5505 117
3 India 4579 114
4 England 5645 113
5 New Zealand 5123 111
Rank Team Points Rating
1 New Zealand 1625 125
2 England 1962 123
3 Pakistan 2417 121
4 West Indies 2222 117
5 India 2183 115