All the cricket fraternity, especially the Indian fans will never forget the iconic final game of the NatWest Series played on July 13, 2002, in which India scripted a glorious victory against England at the home of cricket, Lord's.
The architects of this emphatic victory were not stalwarts but just a 20-year and 21-year-old Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif respectively. These two young guns were the part of the Under 19 World Cup 2000 winning team.
The way the Indian team snatched victory from the jaws of a certain defeat was just amazing. Moreover, this fabulous win came after India's 9 consecutive final defeats. This triumph stands out as one of the greatest wins in the cricket history.
This incredible victory gave the necessary boost and momentum for building a team that turned out as world leaders over the years. Thanks to Dada, Sourav Ganguly, who guided the team on the right track in that transition period of the Indian cricket.
Let's Have A Quick Flashback Of This Extraordinary Match
After winning the toss, the England openers started proceedings aggressively, but the partnership couldn't last long as Nick Knight got cleaned up with Zaheer Khan's yorker at the score of 42. On the other hand, Marcus Trescothick played confidently and went on to build a huge partnership with the captain Nasser Hussain.
The duo toyed the Indian bowlers by dispatching them to every corner of the park. Ganguly used 7 bowlers including himself to break this right and left combination. Trescothick reached the 3 figures score with a strike rate of more than 100.
Trescothick perished after adding 185 runs for the second wicket. Meanwhile, Hussain also started to cut loose after reaching his fifty and eventually scored his career first century and celebrated the achievement with an extraordinary gesture pointing towards the media room. Hussain along with Andrew Flintoff helped England to post a mammoth score of 325 on the board.
In reply, India started off in a lethal fashion from the word go with nothing to lose. Especially, Ganguly took the initiative and attacked the English seam bowlers with his trademark shots in the cover and point regions. The Indian captain reached to his half-century off 35 balls in no time, while Sehwag was in his twenties. At the team score of 106, Ganguly got out in Alex Tudor's bowling.
After the dismissal of Ganguly, wickets got stumbled in a hurry pushing India on to the back foot at 146/5. Halfway through the innings (25 overs), all the big guns (Ganguly, Sehwag, Sachin, Dravid and Dinesh Mongia) were back in the pavilion and India was heading towards another final defeat.
The English camp thought that the match was over but the youngsters Yuvraj and Kaif have altogether a different idea. They played sensibly and never let the required run rate to creep over 7 at any stage. Capitalising on the opportunity, the duo played some delightful strokes accompanied by an excellent running between the wickets. They added 121 runs for the sixth wicket.
At the team score of 267, Yuvraj (69) was dismissed by Collingwood after a well-made half-century. With still requiring 59 from 50 deliveries, Kaif took full responsibility and produced some beautiful lofted shots to get close to the target. At the other end, Harbhajan supported well with a rare maturity. This duo helped India to get past the 300 mark.
Exactly at the moment, when India is sensing victory, Flintoff disturbed Harbhajan's stumps at the team's score of 314. Finally, India required 12 off 13 balls with just 2 wickets remaining. Kaif ensured a series victory for India with an unbeaten 87, which allowed Ganguly to celebrate and deliver the mother of all tit-for-tats, where he took off his shirt on the Lord's balcony to counter Flintoff's earlier act at the Wankhede Stadium.
With this glorious victory, Indian cricket ascended to new heights with many of the young potential players making their way into the side.