The day of July 13 is etched into the memory of every Indian cricket fan as 18 years ago the Sourav Ganguly-led India defeated England in the NatWest Trophy final at the iconic Lord’s.
ground in 2002.
Batting first, England posted a total of 325/5 in 50 overs. Marcus Trescothick (109) and skipper Nasser Hussain (115) slammed centuries as Indian bowlers were sent to all corners of the stadium.
Now coming in to chase the mammoth total, India got off to a fine start as openers Ganguly and Virender Sehwag put together an impressive 106-run stand.
The modern day fans might see the target of 326 as an easy one to chase down. But at the time, any score beyond 300+ was considered to be quite some task.
Kaif and Yuvraj found themselves in the middle after India had lost half their side, and the duo went on to stitch a 121-run partnership.
How Mohhamed Kaif felt after the win?
“Back home in Allahabad, once I returned, I couldn’t handle the celebrations. I was a shy person but people kept coming to my home. Mummy was serving tea snacks to everyone all the time. The media attention too was different.
“They would follow me everywhere. I loved to fly kites at the bank of the Yamuna and they would be there too, saying, ‘Look, Kaif ne aaj patang udayi (Kaif flew kites today!)”. Arre! I have been flying kites daily from childhood. It took me a while to understand all those reactions,” he recalled.
“I remember another special image. When I returned home to Allahabad, I was put on an open-jeep procession. It took us nearly three-four hours to travel the five-six km to our home. People lined up on the roads. Garlands, chants, happy faces. When I was a kid, I had seen Amitabh Bachchan in an open jeep after he had won an election in my hometown. That day, I felt like Amitabh Bachchan,” the 35-year-old added.
Kaif further said that the win changed Indian cricket. “That win changed Indian cricket to an extent. It showed us we could chase big scores, it showed us we could win big finals – that’s one of the reasons Indian fans remember it a lot as this was a big tournament win at Lord’s after the 1983 World Cup final,” Kaif wrote.
“I remember the series in Pakistan later, where the scores were consistently over 300 but we were never fazed in the dressing room. There was a sense of calm and belief. That I think came after the Natwest Trophy win,” he added.