18 years ago, India cricket registered one of the most famous wins of all time. A young Indian side led by Sourav Ganguly stunned the hosts England to lift the trophy at Lord’s. The incredible scenes after India’s famous win are still fresh in the minds of every Indian fan. Mohammad Kaif and Yuvraj Singh were undoubtedly the two heroes of that celebrated final.
Chasing 326, India lost all its big gun and it seemed England will clinch an easy win. The rest that happened after that is history as Kaif and Yuvraj’s 121 run partnership helped India achieve an impossible victory.
Mohammad Kaif stayed till the very end of the Indian innings and scored an unbeaten 87 off mere 75 balls. This knock instantly made Kaif a cult hero in India as he played an integral role in a major win for the men in blue.
Mohammad Kaif celebrates NatWest Trophy 2002 win
In a column for The Indian Express, Kaif recalled the celebrations in his hometown of Allahabad after he returned home. The former Indian cricketer was driven around in an open jeep and was celebrated like a true icon in his city. The former cricketer just couldn’t believe the love which was showered upon him on his return. He even admitted that he felt like he was the Bollywood Megastar, Amitabh Bachchan.
Kaif said, “Back home in Allahabad, once I returned, I couldn’t handle the celebrations. I was a shy person but people kept coming to my home. Mummy was serving tea snacks to everyone all the time. The media attention too was different”.
“They would follow me everywhere. I loved to fly kites at the bank of the Yamuna and they would be there too, saying, ‘Look, Kaif ne aaj patang udayi’. Arre! I have been flying kites daily from childhood. It took me a while to understand all those reactions”.
“I remember another special image. When I returned home to Allahabad, I was put on an open-jeep procession. It took us nearly three-four hours to travel the five-six km to our home. People lined up on the roads. Garlands, chants, happy faces. When I was a kid, I had seen Amitabh Bachchan in an open jeep after he had won an election in my hometown. That day, I felt like Amitabh Bachchan”, Kaif added.
Mohammad Kaif believes that the win in England completely changed Indian cricket. It made India a better chasing side and they became confident after chasing 326. There was always a sense of calm in the dressing room when chasing big totals after that historic win.
“That win changed Indian cricket to an extent. It showed us we could chase big scores, it showed us we could win big finals – that’s one of the reasons Indian fans remember it a lot as this was a big tournament win at Lord’s after the 1983 World Cup final”.
“I remember the series in Pakistan later, where the scores were consistently over 300 but we were never fazed in the dressing room. There was a sense of calm and belief. That I think came after the NatWest Trophy win,” Kaif concluded.