Friday, December 7, 2007

NatWest Series 2002, Final England v India

NatWest Series 2002, Final

England v India

Lawrence Booth


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At Lord's, July 13. India won by two wickets. Toss: England.



Zaheer Khan and Mohammad Kaif start the celebrations after India's unlikely win © Getty Images

This game wasn't merely a case of saving the best until last: it was one of the most thrillingly topsy-turvy limited-overs internationals ever played. At 146 for five in pursuit of 326 - more than they had ever scored batting second - India were down and out.

Their four senior batsmen were all back in the pavilion, and only Yuvraj Singh, aged 20, and Mohammad Kaif, 21, stood between England's bowlers and the tail.

But Yuvraj played some punishing strokes off the back foot, Kaif was all wrists through mid-wicket, and the pair added 121 in less than 18 overs. When Yuvraj top-edged a sweep to short fine leg, Harbhajan helped add a quick 47 with Kaif to take India to the brink, but Flintoff tilted the balance once more with two wickets in the 48th over.

Even so, India needed just 11 runs off 12 balls. Kaif thick-edged Gough to the third-man boundary to reduce the target to two off six, and Zaheer Khan stole the winning runs with three balls remaining courtesy of an overthrow. As England's players wandered off in a daze, the Indians celebrated in style.

In an echo of Flintoff 's antics at Mumbai five months earlier, Ganguly whipped off his shirt and whirled it round his head on the players' balcony, before running through the Long Room to kiss the Lord's turf and embrace Kaif. The capacity crowd, many of them Indians, stood and cheered. After nine consecutive defeats in one-day finals, India had made it tenth time lucky.

But for most of the match their losing streak had seemed certain to continue. England's innings of 325 for five, their fourth-highest in this form of the game, had inspired drama of its own. In his 72nd innings, Hussain reached his first one-day international century, a dogged but scratchy innings, full of miscues and failed reverse sweeps.

When he reached three figures, from 118 balls, he embarked on an impassioned series of gestures to the press box, where several commentators - "ex-players", Hussain later said - had questioned his position in the batting order. Hussain held up three fingers and gesticulated angrily to the No. 3 on the back of his shirt. It was pure theatre, and almost overshadowed an outstanding display from Trescothick, who added a joyous 185 for the second wicket with Hussain in just 177 balls. Trescothick moved to a 40-ball half-century, his most memorable shot a flick for six over mid-wicket off Zaheer, and motored to his third one-day century in 89 balls with some hammer-on-anvil cover-drives. Flintoff bullied 40 off 32, and England had rewarded Hussain's decision to make first use of a belter.

Needing six and a half an over, India came racing out of the blocks too. Ganguly pummelled his way to fifty in just 35 deliveries, and his opening partnership with the dashing Virender Sehwag had reached 106 in the 15th over when Ganguly aimed an ambitious slog at Alex Tudor and was bowled.

It was the first of five wickets to fall for 40 runs in less than ten overs - including Sachin Tendulkar, bowled as he made room. The game seemed over. But England had reckoned without the youthful daring and verve of Yuvraj and Kaif.

Man of the Match: M. Kaif.
Man of the Series: M. E. Trescothick.

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