One of the best cricketing nations in the world, India has gone through many ups and downs in the sport. The NatWest series final of 2002 remains to be one of the biggest victories in Indian cricket history and former England cricketer Nick Knight opened up about the match and recalled how an “extraordinary partnership” won the final for the visitors at the Lord’s. Opting to bat after winning the toss, England posted 325 for five with captain Nasser Hussain and Marcus Trescothick registering stylish centuries. “The game back then was not played the same way it is done now. So 325…I can tell you that when we were back in the dressing room and having some of the best foods we were pretty happy with ourselves. I knew we were playing against a good side with extremely good players but in those days if you got 325, you are the strong, strong favourites”, said Knight, speaking on Cricket.com.
“Then Ganguly and Sehwag came out and smashed the first few overs. I got to thinking then, probably after 10 overs that this might be quite a close game here because Dravid, Tendulkar was yet to come. And we really didn’t know much about Yuvraj and Kaif”, he said.
“We knew they were good and talented players but I didn’t really, if I’m really being honest here, that at 140 for 5 when Sachin got out did I think that these two guys whom we didn’t know much about can get the team up to 326. It’s not being arrogant or being stupid, it’s just the way you think at that point”.
After the dismissal of Tendulkar in the 24th over, India were reeling at 146 for five. Then Yuvraj and Kaif stitched together a match-winning partnership to help India stage a comeback.
Yuvraj registered 69 runs off 63 balls, packed with nine fours and a maximum. Meanwhile, Kaif smashed an unbeaten knock of 87 runs off 75 deliveries, including six fours and two sixes.
“When the partnership began to unfold you started thinking that these are really good players. Yuvraj was just smashing it leg side and over long-on. But what Kaif did affected me a little bit, a deep point because a fielder there think he just got to stop the boundary but what he was so good at was hitting the half-length balls and makes you think that you got to come in and stop those twos and threes. They ran us ragging”, said the former England cricketer.
“That partnership was filled with ones, twos and threes. It was one of the best partnerships that I can remember playing the game”.
India ended up reaching 326 for eight in 49.3 overs, winning by two wickets. The match also went down into cricketing folklore due to Sourav Ganguly’s celebration at the Lord’s balcony, when he took his shirt off and twirled it in the air.
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