x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

The day it began for India

The final 10 years ago identified a core group that would go on to achieve great things for Indian cricket.

Sachin Tendulkar of India in action at Lord's in 2002.
Sachin Tendulkar of India in action at Lord's in 2002.

Most people remember it for Sourav Ganguly shirtless on the Lord's balcony, whirling the garment after victory had been clinched with three balls to spare. For the neutral, it was just another tri-series final. For an Indian team that had its lost nine previous tournament finals, it was much more than that.

It's 10 years to the day since Mohammad Kaif's composed 75-ball 87 saw India pull off a run chase that was unprecedented in English conditions. Set 326 after centuries from Marcus Trescothick and Nasser Hussain, India were at 146 for five when Kaif joined Yuvraj Singh, his old Under-19 teammate, at the crease.

The two added 121 and though there were a couple of wobbles in sight of the finish, Kaif saw to it that Ganguly would have his moment, a riposte to Andrew Flintoff's own shirtless run in Mumbai months earlier.

Why does India still talk of a seemingly insignificant match played all of a decade ago? For one, that was when the theory of playing with seven batsmen (one of whom kept wicket) and four bowlers took root. It allowed India to exploit their strength, batting, and see off every team but Australia at the World Cup the following year.

Second, that final identified a core group that would go on to achieve great things. Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan would all play in a successful World Cup campaign nine years later. A sixth man, Ashish Nehra, would also have played the final in Mumbai last year if not for a broken finger. The Lord's heroics were the start of something special.

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