Mohammad Kaif was declared Man-of-the-Match in 2002 Natwest final (Reuters Image)
- There was a trend that India would qualify for the final but would eventually lose: Kaif
- Those were the days when anything above 300 looked like an uphill task: Mohammad Kaif
- Retired on July 13, 2018 as won the NatWest Trophy on the same date in 2002: Kaif
The 2002 NatWest final is one of the most famous folklore which will ever exist in the history of Indian cricket. After losing 5 wickets for just 146 runs, India had went in to chase a mammoth target of 326 runs set by England at the iconic Lord’s cricket ground.
It’s the game which saw the birth of a redefined and upgraded Indian team, which was tameless and ready to challenge the mightiest. Mohammad Kaif and Yuvraj Singh did all the work after all the hopes in the world were lost. Fans had switched off the TV and left the ground, parents of Mohammad Kaif had went for a movie.
Two champions were born that day. Yuvraj and Kaif stitched a partnership of 121 runs but 59 runs were still needed when Yuvraj Singh went back to the dug out in the 42nd over. But Mohammad Kaif continued with valour to make July 13, 2002 his own. India sealed the victory by 2 wickets with Kaif winning Player-of-the-Match award for his unbeaten 87.
Mohammad Kaif has said that the day “changed his life” and to make it memorable he retired on the same date in 2018. Mohammad Kaif also added that India back then was also desperate to end the trend of losing in the finals. Kaif said Sourav Ganguly’s soldiers were dejected after England piled up 325 runs on the board but the total was chased and the rest as they say is history now.
“July 13 will always be close to my heart. It changed my life. I wanted to make that day memorable, so I announced my retirement on July 13, 2018. It will always remain a special day for me…,” Mohammad Kaif told Sportstar.
“It was a completely new situation for me. I hadn’t faced something like that before, where you were playing a crucial final. Back then, there was a trend that India would qualify for the final but would eventually miss out on the title. It appeared that we were the best team till the final, but somehow things would go incredibly wrong in the last hurdle, so we were desperate to break the jinx.
“Ahead of the final, there were a lot of discussions on how to tame the home team. But in the end, all that meant very little as England posted a mammoth 325. Those were the days when anything above 300 looked like an uphill task. So, as England piled on the runs, the Indian camp looked dejected and we knew that we failed to get the monkey off our back.
“After all, who would have thought that we could script a turnaround!,” Mohammad Kaif recalled.
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