‘The shot in the arm team needed’: When Sachin, Ganguly, Dravid uttered the same words to lift morale of Team India in NatWest final

Hindustan Times, Delhi | ByAritra Mukherjee
Jul 26, 2020 07:28 AM IST

India have snatched victories from the jaws of defeat many times but there was something about that final at Lord’s that it has somehow managed to surpass them all and maintain a special place among Indian fans. When Sachin, Ganguly, Dravid spoke together to lift morale of Team India

If ‘great minds think alike’ idiom needed an advertisement then Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, and Rahul Dravid provided just that in the famous NatWest Trophy final against England at Lord’s in 2002.


The stories from that NatWest final are endless. The cricketers involved in it never get tired of sharing them and neither do the fans show any signs of boredom knowing them. India have snatched victories from the jaws of defeat many times but there was something about that final at Lord’s that it has somehow managed to surpass them all and maintain a special place among Indian fans.

Former India wicket-keeper Ajay Ratra, who was also a member of that NatWest Trophy-winning Indian squad, gave an insight into what transpired inside the dressing room when England had posted 325 for 5 batting first.

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It was a final, that too at Lord’s. 18 years ago, anything above 300 was considered to be a defending side’s game to lose. It was but natural that the moral of the team would not be on the higher side. Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid sensed this.

All three of them spoke together. “We will play our natural game, then we’ll see where it goes.” That was it, the shot in the arm the team needed.

“325 in 2002 was a big score and that too in a final at Lord’s, which is England’s stronghold. England were playing very well in that tournament. So the atmosphere inside the dressing room was not that good in the beginning when our innings had started but everybody was positive. Sachin, Rahul, Dada said that we will play our natural game and let’s see where we end up. That lifted us all,” Ratra, who wasn’t a part of the playing XI in the final told Hindustan Times in an exclusive chat.

“We knew we had a good batting line-up. Viru, Ganguly started very well. When you are chasing a total as big as that one, chances are definitely less. But the way Dada and Viru gave us a brisk start by putting on a 100 stand in quick time, so you get some sort of confidence.

“We knew we had depth in batting. Rahul was playing as a ‘keeper, we had pure batsmen till No.7. We did lose four-five wickets quickly in the middle but the good thing about that team was that our run rate was maintained throughout the chase,” recalled Ratra.

India were reduced to 146 for 5 despite a brilliant 106-run opening stand between Ganguly and Sehwag.

“When five wickets were down, I had gone there to give drinks to Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif since I was not playing that game. We had some time to talk so the conversation was on that grounds that we just need more than a run a ball. All we need to do is stay confident. But the way they played their shots, pulls, over covers I think it was one of Kaif’s best innings,” Ratra said.

Yuvraj Singh scored 69 and Mohammed Kaif remained unbeaten on 87 as India chased down the target with two wickets in hand and three balls to spare.

What followed after the win was even more dramatic. India’s captain Sourav Ganguly waved his shirt from the Lord’s balcony which has now become a part of cricketing folklore.

“There is a history behind it,” said Ratra. “We had played against England a few months before in India. I had made my debut at Eden Gardens in that series. That had ended up being a 3-3 draw. We were leading 3-1 but England won the last two matches to equal the series and the way Flintoff removed his t-shirt in Wankhede to celebrate was a moment that we all remembered. Dada we all know is aggressive; he remembers things and gives it back when the opportunity comes. So at Lord’s we chased down that target and the way he removed his t-shirt at Lord’s to give it back to Flintoff was the best. We as a team performed really well to win that.

“That was also a bit surprising, to be honest. If the young cricketers like Yuvraj, Harbhajan had done it then it would have been fine but Dada doing that was a bit instant. Everybody was surprised. But we all were very happy. The celebrations continued till late night,” added Ratra.

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    Aritra Mukherjee, who happens to be a journalist, is in an eternal relationship with food and sleep. He can, however, sacrifice both or at least the latter for his love-affair with cricket. 'He said,' 'he added,' 'he signed off' are some of his favourite phrases. When not juggling between food, sleep and cricket, he wastes time by surfing OTT platforms.

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