17 years ago on this day, a spirited Indian side, led by Sourav Ganguly, had taken the greens of Lord’s to a shock which would take years to overcome. Facing each other in the final of a tri-series which also had Sri Lanka, England were considered favourites ahead of the much-anticipated clash against India. Winning the toss to bat first, English captain Nasser Hussain (115 off 128 balls) and opener Marcus Trescothick (109 off 100 balls) scripted a mammoth 185-run stand for the second wicket. Late in the innings, Andrew Flintoff smashed a quickfire 40 off 32 balls to help the English team put up a total of 325 in their innings.
India, not a traditional chasing side, were considered defeated even before the start of the second innings. Chasing, Sourav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag opened the innings and gave India a breezy start, scoring runs at a brisk rate. Ganguly, one of India’s best limited overs cricketers, made his intentions clear from the very first ball as he smashed all the ways around. Scoring at a rate of 140, he scored 60 off 43 in India’s opening stand of 106 before getting out in the 15th over. Sehwag also fell short after, failing to continue the onslaught. What followed next was something Indian cricket had long been witnessing for. Succumbing to the pressure of a long run-chase, one after another batsman took the long way back to the pavilion.
Crumbled at 146/5 in the 24th over, the men in blues were heading for an eventual defeat when two youngsters took the baton and decided otherwise. Requiring 180 in 27 overs, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif staged one of the greatest comebacks in a run-chase as they put on a partnership of 121 in just 112 deliveries. Cautious with their shot-making, the two youngsters relied heavily on their fast feet and stole runs in the form of singles and doubles to hurt England. Their delicate approach to the chase put India in a position from where Ganguly & Co. fancied victory.
Losing Yuvraj in the 41st over did not bother Kaif as he continued with his offensive and smashed a fiery 50-run stand in just 29 balls with tailender Harbhajan Singh. Despite losing Harbhajan and Anil Kumble off two consecutive deliveries, the under-19 World cup winning captain held his nerve and stood firm in his ground to guide India to one of the most famous ODI victories ever with three balls remaining.
Following, the scenes that erupted resonate in the heart and soul of every Indian cricket fan. From Yuvraj Singh’s sprint to the ground and leaping over a jubilant Kaif to Ganguly’s iconic gyrating jersey in the balcony of Lord’s, those were the moments which shaped the epicentre of India’s fandom of cricket in the ongoing era.