‘Don’t panic’: Mohammad Kaif recalls Sourav Ganguly’s words in dressing room during 2002 Natwest Series final
Kaif, who had scored an unbeaten 87 in 78 balls in the match to help India to a thrilling two-wicket win, recalled that the dressing room was tense before the start of the chase.Updated: Jul 16, 2020 16:15 IST
The 2002 Natwest Series final between India and England turned into one of the most thrilling encounters ever at Lord’s. To this day, the fans recall the moment when Mohammad Kaif and Zaheer Khan ran for a quick single, but an overthrow allowed them to take another run, which won India the game. India captain Sourav Ganguly waving his jersey at the Lord’s balcony to celebrate the win is another one moment which is etched in the minds of Indian cricket fans.
The reason why the match is one of the best ODIs ever is because at that point in time, chasing 326 against England at Lord’s was no easy feat. India also had a poor record in the finals, and after England captain Nasser Hussain scored a ton to help England to a mammoth total, many fans across the world believed that it would be an impossible chase.
Kaif, who had scored an unbeaten 87 runs in 78 balls in the match to help India to a sensational two-wicket win, recalled that the dressing room was tense before the start of the chase. “It hadn’t started so well. I remember the scene in the dressing room just before we went out to chase. We were struggling to figure out how to chase big totals those days and there was a feeling of ‘here we go again’,” Kaif wrote in his column for The Indian Express.
“The mood was low. John Wright, our coach, stood at one end and it was more a players’ meeting. We stood around as Sourav Ganguly spoke: “Don’t panic. We will just start well, try not to lose any wicket and take it on later,” he added.
Ganguly and his opening partner Virender Sehwag gave India a quick start that laid down the foundation for Yuvraj Singh and Kaif to take their time and settle down in the middle before going for big shots. India were five wickets down by the time the two were in the middle and if Ganguly and Sehwag had not given a brisk start, the duo might have felt under pressure to hit big shots from the get go which could have cost them their wickets.
“And he (Ganguly) did what he said,” Kaif wrote. “He hit a six over covers, as he and Virender Sehwag gave us momentum. But then wickets fell and I was in the middle. I had never batted in such an atmosphere, in at no. 7, Sachin was out and still some 180-odd runs needed in 24 overs,” Kaif recalled.
Sachin was dismissed cheaply which left Yuvraj and Kaif in the middle. The duo added 121-run for the 6th wicket, and brought India back into the match. The 2002 Natwest series final win was one of the biggest wins for Sourav Ganguly-led Indian team.