Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Yuvraj and Kaif pull off a heist against England in 2002 NatWest Trophy final
July 13, 2002 - In the period between January 31, 1999 and July 13, 2002, India lost nine consecutive ODI finals, five of which came while chasing.
This was the time when India were overdependent on Sachin Tendulkar to put a majority of the runs on the board, and if Tendulkar was dismissed early, particularly during a chase, it meant curtains more often than not.
India had been overly reliant on Tendulkar during the 1996 and 1999 World Cups as well but with the inclusion of Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, the team did have a few more batsmen to share the load by the beginning of this century.
Despite that, in a four-year period, India won only two games while chasing when Tendulkar did not score a half-century and the opposition was not one of Zimbabwe or Bangladesh.
This is why when India reached the final of the 2002 NatWest tri-series and England invited them to field first, the signs were not auspicious for the Sourav Ganguly-led side. If that wasn't enough, Marcus Trescothick was right on the money and punished the Indian new ball bowlers.
Both Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan went on to concede runs at an economy of over 6 RPO while Sourav Ganguly went at 9.33 from his three overs. Trescothick was finally bowled by Kumble for 109 off just 100 deliveries. By that time, England's score read 227/2 from just 37 overs.
They went on to add close to another 100 runs to the total on the back of a century from captain Nasser Hussain and a quick-fire 40 from Andrew Flintoff.
India had a rapid start with them past the 100-mark in the 15th over. Both Virender Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly were looking good but were dismissed in a space of nine deliveries. This, as expected, brought about a collapse with the team losing 5 wickets for just 40 runs.
More importantly, Tendulkar also lost his wicket for 14 and with him, it seemed that India's hopes of winning another final had gone to dogs.
At 146/5 in the 24th over, it was now up to the last recognised batting pair Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif to take India over the line. In his young ODI career, Mohammad Kaif had played only 17 ODIs before this game. Yuvraj Singh had played a few more but with the combined age of 41, the duo would have to play out of their skin at the Home of Cricket to pull off a heist, and they did exactly that.
After Yuvraj was dismissed on 69 off 63 deliveries with more than 8 overs to go and 59 runs still needed, England sniffed a chance. Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble were dismissed in quick succession and the visitors now had just two more wickets to chase down the total.
A streaky boundary from Mohammad Kaif brought down the required runs down to two. Zaheer Khan pushed a full toss from Flintoff to the covers for a tight single. India were fortunate to get another run off an overthrow and went on to break their 9-match losing streak in the final to win the match by two wickets with just three balls remaining.
Sourav Ganguly's image of waving his shirt at the Lord's balcony has since become iconic for the Indian cricket fans. The win gave India the confidence of holding their own on big occasions. After the victory, India's record while chasing totals also improved drastically.
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