Over the years, there have been many iconic and memorable innings played in all the three formats of the game. Among many, the 2002 Netwest series final between England and India is still remembered as one of the best ODI games.
During the series, Sourav Ganguly led the young Indian cricket team, chased down 326 runs to beat the England cricket team led by Nasser Hussain at Lord’s to lift the trophy.
However, the main highlight of the match was that two Indian youngsters — Mohammad Kaif and Yuvraj Singh, ensured that team India lifts the trophy. The duo made the impossible victory a possible one.
During the final, when Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif were in the middle, the Sourav Ganguly led side had got off to a good start and the responsibility was on the shoulders of both the young batsmen. Their job was to maintain the run rate and ensuring that they don’t lose the wickets.
But things changed when Yuvraj Singh was dismissed for 65 leaving behind 60-odd runs for team India to chase. Mohammad Kaif, who was left behind in the middle alongwith the tailenders took the responsibility and gave a stunning performance.
Recalling the memories of the same innings, Mohammad Kaif revealed how advice from Harbhajan Singh helped him at a crucial moment. He revealed:
“I was in shock (on Yuvraj’s departure), now I had to do it with the tailenders but had no experience in dealing with them. I remember I pulled a six off Ronnie Irani – again not really the length for it but I just reacted. Irani was someone who would bowl around 120 kmph but had the attitude of a fast bowler. We two had a bit going in that game, I think.”
“Ï told Harbhajan to play his game as I didn’t want to confuse anyone. But it was Bhajji who helped me at an important moment. I had slogged Paul Collingwood and the ball went off the inside edge to fine leg for two runs. Bhaji told me, “Kya kar raha hai, what are you doing? Run-a-ball now, look at the scorecard.” I thought, yes, he is right. I just needed to watch the ball, play the ball,”
“I went for a big leg-side shot against Gough but it flew off the edge to the third man boundary. Even then, I wasn’t sure of the win. You never know. Because if Zak got out, we had Nehraji. I can visualise him sitting in the dressing room, scratching his head. Zaheer played out two dot balls, they didn’t want me on strike. There was a fear of losing the game until the end. But off the third ball, we went for a single but there was an overthrow and a panic run. That was it,”