Sixteen years ago on this day, the Sourav Ganguly-led Indian side won the NatWest tri-series playing one of the most dramatic finals against hosts England at The Lord's.
India chased down England's 325 – a total considered mammoth during those days – to clinch a memorable victory in the final over of the encounter. Number 10 batsman Zaheer Khan tapped the ball on the offside and scampered for a single, only to hare back for the winning run courtesy an overthrow, alongside the hero of the match Mohammad Kaif – all now a special part in the legend of India's ODI cricket. So was the post-triumph celebrations.
The image of Captain Ganguly removing his jersey and waving it wildly over his head at The Lord's balcony became one of the most enduring and memorable moments in Indian cricket.
📅 #OnThisDay in 2002...
India won the NatWest Series Final vs England at Lord's in some style!
— Lord's Cricket Ground (@HomeOfCricket) July 13, 2018
Ganguly's celebration was a reply of sorts to England's Andrew Flintoff, who had removed his shirt at Wankhede in 2002 after winning the game for England.
In the final of the NatWest tri-series 2002, England rode on centuries from Marcus Trescothick (109) and captain Nasir Hussain (115) to post a huge score of 325. Indian openers Virender Sehwag and Ganguly provided a blazing start but a collapse from 101/1 to 146/5 all but doused India's hopes. What happened next is history and this win has since been rated very special because it defied common wisdom and expectations of those times.
Back in 2002, the Indian team had just come out of the phase where it relied heavily on the batting genius of Sachin Tendulkar to win matches. Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble were well-established players while Sehwag was a rising star. However, with the top half including Tendulkar back in the pavilion for the score of 146, several Indian supporters switched off their television sets.
Two youngsters – Yuvraj Singh and Kaif – scripted a revival for the ages with a 121-run partnership for the 6th wicket to bring the visitors from the brink of a defeat to close in on a historic win. Yuvraj fell for 69, but Kaif carried on, with the tail, remaining unbeaten on 87 to take India across the line, giving the nation one of its most famous victories. From being the rookies in the squad, Yuvraj and Kaif went on to become overnight heroes in India.
In a fitting tribute to the momentous win in India's cricketing legacy and his own, Kaif, on the 16th anniversary of the victory, called time on his cricketing career.
When I started playing Cricket,the dream was to play in the India Cap one day.Have been very fortunate to step on to the field & represent my country on 190 days of my life. Today is an apt day for me to announce my retirement from all competetive Cricket. Thank you everyone 🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/HzKZDWgXBo — Mohammad Kaif (@MohammadKaif) July 13, 2018