Former Indian batsman Mohammad Kaif remembered the Natwest Trophy final in 2002 as Sourav Ganguly’s side defeated England at Lord’s in an extraordinary run-chase.

Chasing an imposing 326 for victory, a rarity in the pre-Twenty20 era, Kaif and Yuvraj Singh masterminded the chase after Virender Sehwag and skipper Ganguly had got India off to a blistering start.

Also read: Kaif and Yuvraj’s chase, Ganguly’s shirt twirl in the 2002 Natwest Trophy final

“The mood was low [after England wrapped up their innings],” Kaif wrote in a column in Indian Express.

“John Wright, our coach, stood at one end and it was more a players’ meeting. We stood around as Ganguly spoke: ‘Don’t panic. We will just start well, try not to lose wickets and take it on later.’”

Kaif and Singh joined hands with their team struggling at 146/5. With India’s hopes fading away, the duo, who were still finding their feet in international cricket, put up a breezy 121-run sixth-wicket stand. Kaif, who was unbeaten on 87 from 75 balls, built crucial partnerships with Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan to take India over the line with three balls to spare.

Kaif opened up about his stand with Singh. “Yuvraj and I were burning to make a name for ourselves, and we really wanted to do well,” he wrote.

“We had played together in youth teams and had an understanding. I remember the required rate never got over eight at any stage. He played his shots, I did what I do and runs started to come. The game started to slowly turn around.”

Kaif added: “...At one stage, [91 needed from 72 balls], I could see Ganguly waving his hands to catch my attention. He put his finger up, signalling that I should take a single and give the strike to Yuvraj. As any captain would do, he wanted to guide the youngsters in the middle. But I was in my zone: see the ball, react to it, hit it. I had to take my own call in the middle.

“Also, I wanted to make a name for myself. Show the world who I am.”

Kaif revealed that he had worked on his technique against short-pitched bowling ahead of the series after losing his place in the Indian Test side.

“I had been dropped from the Indian Test team, and the South African series in particular had made me decide to work on my pull shot,” Kaif said.

“In Kanpur, I called young players, made them use a wet ball and told them to bowl short on cement pitches. I would pull and cut and became a good puller after that.”

Kaif returned to a hero’s welcome, something that made him feel like a Bollywood superstar. He said that people came to his home in droves and was followed by media everywhere.

“...When I returned home to Allahabad, I was put on an open-jeep procession,” said Kaif.

“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.”