July 13, 2002 – A day no Indian cricket fan will never forget. It gave India two new superstars. It gave the team belief that no target in too big. After that, India would go on to chase may huge targets. But it all has to start somewhere. Was this that match?
The tournament: India had a brilliant run in the Natwest Series 2002. They chased down 272 in their first match against England and then beat Sri Lanka by 4 wickets in the next match. However, bad weather ruined their charge in the next game, but they bounced back well with yet another 4-wicket win in the game after that. They suffered a minor setback when they lost to England in a rain-curtailed match, but in the match before the final, they beat Sri Lanka comprehensively. England on the other hand did not have it all smooth. They lost a couple of games, but had done enough to make it to the final. Sri Lanka had to head home after a solitary win in the series – coming against England.
The match: England captain Nasser Hussain won the toss and elected to bat first in overcast conditions at Lord’s. Considering that Lord’s offers a bit of assistance for the spinners, England decided to include Ashley Giles in the XI in place of fast bowler Matthew Hoggard. India however decided to play two spinners. Harbhajan Singh was brought into the side in place of Ajit Agarkar. As far as the batting was concerned, VVS Laxman made way for Dinesh Mongia. More importantly, Rahul Dravid returned to fulfil his wicketkeeping duties in place of Ajay Ratra.
Nick Knight got the first boundary of the match in the third over off Ashish Nehra. England did not hit many boundaries, but kept a good run-rate. But Knight was cleaned up by a beautiful delivery by Zaheer in the eighth over.
The big partnership: Hussain came into bat at No. 3. He had been under a lot of scrutiny for not having scored a century for England in ODIs in 71 innings before this match. However, Trescothick had a wonderful series before the final, but a big score eluded him.
India had many chances to break the Trescothick-Hussain stand. The first one came in the 11th over when Trescothick was dropped at backward point by Yuvraj Singh. Hussain too had received many lives. He was dropped, inside edges missing the wickets and every risky shot coming off well. But the England skipper rode his luck well in that match and was destined for a big score.
Trescothick brought up his fifty off 41 balls and Hussain at the other end did not have to do anything silly. Trescothick scored boundaries at ease from one end and Hussain too slowly started getting into the groove.
The duo brought up their 100-run stand in the 22nd over and the platform was set for England to get a big score. A score of 330-340 looked very much on the cards. Hussain brought up his fifty off 60 deliveries, while Trescothick at the other end was inching closer to his third century.
Trescothick brought up his ton off 89 deliveries. He could add just nine more runs to his tally as he missed a straight one from Anil Kumble and the ball crashed into his off stump. Trescothick walked back for 109, bringing curtains to an epic 185-run stand between him and Hussain.
Hussain finally does it: With the score at 227 for 2 in 36.5 overs, Hussain promoted Andrew Flintoff to No. 4. His only job was to clear the fence at every possible opportunity. However, it was all about Hussain from here. He brought up his maiden hundred in his 72nd innings and it took him 118 balls to get there. He immediately pointed at the No. 3 written on his shirt and pointed three fingers at the commentary box. Many in the press had questioned his batting position and a few had in fact wondered why he was even in the England side. Hussain immediately shifted gears and started hitting the fence with ease. Hussain and Flintoff put on 80 runs in just 10 overs to put England in a commanding position. Flintoff was dismissed for 40 off 32 and in the very next over, Hussain too fell for 115. England finished at 325 for 5 from their 50 overs.
The chase: India got off to a wonderful start, thanks to Sourav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag. It was evident that the openers were keen to make the best of the first 15 overs. The cleared the in field with ease, with Ganguly being the aggressor.
Ganguly brought up his fifty off just 35 balls and kept India’s hopes of completing an improbable win alive. This would be only the second highest successful run-chase in ODI history, After Australia chased down 330 just months before this match against South Africa.
India were still very much in the game and England were starting to feel the heat. They knew that they needed a breakthrough at the earliest. They did get the breakthrough in the 15th over, when Alex Tudor bowled Ganguly for 60 off just 48 deliveries. More importantly, he and Sehwag put on 106 for the first wicket. It was now for the middle-order to continue from where their skipper had left off.
The collapse: After Ganguly’s wicket, Sehwag fell for a 49-ball 45, missing the ball, while looking to cut Giles. Dinesh Mongia perished for 9 caught down the leg side off Ronnie Irani, Sachin Tendulkar played a really strange innings and was bowled for 14, followed by Dravid’s wicket for 5 – caught at mid-wicket off Irani. Everything was finally falling into place for England. From 106 for no loss, India were tottering at 146 for 5 after 24 overs. From there, everyone thought it was a mere formality and India were going to succumb to a huge defeat. However, two youngsters Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif had other plans.
Yuvraj-Kaif blow England away: The idea when these two came together would perhaps be to try their best to bat out 50 overs to avoid an embarrassing defeat. But Yuvraj and Kaif had played some cricket together before that. Kaif led India to a win in the ICC Under-19 World Cup in 2000, where Yuvraj was one of his star players. These two had potential, but the question was whether they can deliver for India when the chips were down.
The duo brought up their 50-run stand quietly. No big deal. But once they got their eye in, they were willing to take on quality bowlers like Flintoff, Giles and Darren Gough. Runs were ticking along, but India still had a mountain to climb.
Yuvraj brought up his fifty by striking three continuous boundaries of Flintoff’s fifth over. At the end of 38 overs, India needed 81 off 12 overs at 7.58, with two set batsmen at the crease.
The assault kept continuing and the batsmen ensured that the boundaries kept coming. The 100-run partnership too was brought up in quick time and from there, India started to believe that they can indeed win this game. Kaif brought up a run-a-ball fifty, but couple of deliveries later, Yuvraj top-edged a ball from Paul Collingwood to Tudor at short fine-leg for 69 off 63. Yuvraj was clearly distraught as he could not finish off the match for his side. Yuvraj had put on 121 off 106 deliveries, which gave India a real chance of winning. But one could never trust the Indian tail.
The Mohammad Kaif show: With 59 required off 50 deliveries following Yuvraj’s departure, the burden of taking India home fell on the shoulders of Kaif. Kaif had shown brilliant application, temperament and also showed that he had a good head over his shoulders. But can he finish the job?
He found a good partner in Harbhajan Singh at the other end, who was trying his best to keep Kaif on the strike as much as possible. He and Kaif put on 47 for the seventh wicket and India were just 12 away from a famous win and they had 15 balls to get there when Harbhajan was dismissed. To make matters worse, Kumble was given caught behind two balls later for a 2-ball duck.
India needed 11 from the final 2 overs, with just 2 wickets in hand. Gough bowled the penultimate over. Gough’s previous over had yielded 11 runs. Tudor had an over up his sleeve, yet Hussain decided to go for the experienced campaigner. He had given away 5 from the first 5 deliveries. A wicket or a or even a single at that stage would have given Flintoff at least 5 to 6 runs to defend in the final over. But Gough out swinger found Kaif’s edge and the ball raced to the vacant third man fence. India now needed just 2 off the final over.
WATCH THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MATCH HERE:
After two dots off the first two deliveries, Zaheer Khan got some bat on the ball to cover. Kaif ran quickly, dove to make his ground, but overthrows had given India 2 runs and won the match by 2 wickets, with 3 balls to spare. Kaif remained unbeaten on 87 off 75.
Aftermath: Lord’s erupted following India’s win. Ganguly took off his shirt and celebrated just like Flintoff did when England had drawn the 6-match series when they visited India earlier. Ganguly then came rushing to the ground and pounced on Kaif. India lifted the Natwest Trophy. Many talk about the 1999 World Cup semi-final between South Africa and Australia being the best match ever, but this game was certainly not far behind.
Even 15 years later, Yuvraj is still a part of India’s limited-overs set up. However, Kaif had a successful India career, but was later dropped due to poor performances. He is now the captain of the newly formed Ranji Trophy Team – Chhatisgarh.
TRIVIA: This was Trescothick’s third century in ODIs and England had tasted defeat in all three matches. Also, Hussain played 12 more matches after this and he never got another ODI hundred again.
India also drew the Test series against England that followed this series. While England took a 1-0 lead with 170-run win in the first Test at Lord’s, India won the third Test at Headingley by a whooping innings and 46 runs to end the four-match series 1-1.
It was certainly a tour to remember for both the players and the fans.
England 325-5 in 50 overs (Nasser Hussain 115, Marcus Trescothick 109 (Zaheer Khan 3-62, Anil Kumble 1-54) lost to India 326-8 in 49.4 overs (Ashley Giles 2-47, Andrew Flintoff 2-55) by 2 wickets.