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'I am happy to be part of one of India's greatest wins'

July 13, 2020 18:07 IST

'As I was walking out to bat after Tendulkar's wicket, I could see people leaving the stands.'
'From that situation to win the game, it is something I will cherish forever.'

Mohammad Kaif

IMAGE: A jubilant Mohammad Kaif after guiding India to victory in the NatWest final. Photograph: Clive Mason/Getty Images
 

On July 13, 2002, India defied all odds to outclass England in the thrilling NatWest One Day series final at Lord's.

The triumph in many ways was a path-breaking moment in Indian cricket as two youngsters stole victory from the jaws of defeat.

A young Mohammad Kaif achieved instant stardom for his match-winning 87 as he and Yuvraj Singh scripted one of Indian cricket's most memorable triumphs.

'July 13, 2002: The day we climbed Mt Everest at Lord's... Dada shirtless, Yuvi nerveless, Zak's support priceless, Me fearless...memories endless,' Kaif tweeted on Monday, recalling one of the best moments of his career.

Sourav Ganguly

IMAGE: Captain Sourav Ganguly with the NatWest Trophy after beating England in the final at Lord's. Photograph: Clive Mason/Getty Images

"That match was one of the turning points for Indian cricket," Kaif had told me in an interview in 2018.

Captain Sourav Ganguly taking off his shirt and celebrating from the balcony of the Lord's dressing room after the win remains one of the most unforgettable images of Indian cricket.

Kaif retired on July 13, 2018 -- 16 years to the day after he scored that match-turning 87 in the Natwest final in 2002.

"And it was very special because chasing a target of over 300 was not easy," Kaif told me. "India used to struggle back then while chasing targets and till then no team had ever chased over 300 at Lord's."

"In that final, Sachin Tendulkar got out early, we lost a few early wickets, and everyone had lost hope."

"My family also lost all hope and went out to watch a movie. As I was walking out to bat after Tendulkar's wicket, I could see people leaving the stands."

"From that situation to win the game, it is something I will cherish forever. That match will go down as one of the best matches in Indian cricket history and I am very happy to have been a part of it."

Sourav Ganguly

IMAGE: Standing on the balcony at Lord's, a bare-chested Sourav Ganguly swirled his shirt after India won the final. Photograph: PTI

In the NatWest final, India were set a target of 326 to win, but were reeling at 146/5 when Yuvraj and Kaif got together at the crease.

The duo put on a crucial partnership of 121 runs. After Yuvraj was dismissed for 69, Kaif kept his composure and guided India to victory in the final over.

HARISH KOTIAN