“I think he must drive the bus; he drives Tendulkar around.” These were the welcome words of former England cricketer Nasser Hussain for a very young player from Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh. The young ‘lad’ heard what was said to him but remained calm to cruise India to a very famous and historic 2-wicket victory.
On that day, young ‘lad’ Mohammad Kaif had shown more maturity than the English captain Nasser Hussain, who had celebrated his first-ever (and also the only) ODI hundred in an animated fashion. He has pointed 3 fingers towards the press box, signalling that he was good as England’s number 3 in the 50-over format.
18 years later, Mohammad had replied to Nasser Hussain on a public platform and said that “thanks to that innings the bus driver drives a convertible now”. Kaif was replying to a Sky Sports podcast featuring Nasser Hussain. In the podcast, Hussain admitted quite boastfully of sledging Kaif and calling him a driver.
— Mohammad Kaif (@MohammadKaif) May 16, 2020
However, Nasser Hussain was polite to Mohammad Kaif’s reaction as he wrote, “Haha .. it was some game mate !! With great memories.. for you anyway. Hope you are well and staying safe bud !”
Chasing a daunting target of 326 runs India were gasping for breath at 146 for 5. Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar were back in the pavilion and in the middle were two young Indians, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif.
The looked like men on mission and stitched together a partnership of 121 runs before Yuvraj got out in the 42nd over. India needed another 59 runs then and Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan and Anil Kumble were the only batters left.
Everybody had thought that India will lose the match, even Kaif’s parents, who locked their house door and went on to watch a movie but their son continued with valour and rest as they say is history.
Mohammad Kaif remained unbeaten on 87 runs to help India win the match by 2 wickets and Sourav Ganguly took his shirt and swung it vigorously in the Lord’s balcony. Both the moments became immortal in the history of cricket.
Indian cricket had changed forever that day. Rememebering the sight Hussain said, “Ganguly changed Indian cricket. Before Ganguly, India were a very humble, polite team. He made them a very feisty side.”