London: Indian captain Saurav Ganguly said India's sensational two-wicket win over England at the Lord's on Saturday erased the painful memories of the One-day series against that team at home early this year.
"I have no words to explain. It has been outstanding," said Ganguly of India's victory after having remained literally glued to his seat throughout India's epic run chase in the afternoon. It was clear that not clinching the home series against England after leading 2-1 had rankled Ganguly. For, soon after Kaif and Zaheer completed the winning run, he took off his shirt in the manner Andrew Flintoff had done in Mumbai as England won the nerve-wrecker of a match in the final encounter.
Ganguly admitted what happened that January evening was a painful moment for him as an Indian captain. He also said the Lord's win maintained the team's unbeaten record in a One-day series in 2002. "We have won every series we have played this year. The word final is missing but we have won the deciders," said Ganguly, making a reference to critics' point that India has struggled to win finals in recent past. Until Saturday, India had failed to win nine of the One-day finals it played on the trot since 1998. It was tied 3-3 by England in the six-match series at home early this year but beat the West Indies 2-1 in the Caribbean before arriving in England.
Ganguly praised the efforts of Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif who revived the Indian innings with a 121-run stand for the sixth wicket after the team had slumped for 146 for five. "This is one of the greatest One-day innings (from Kaif) we must have seen. Those two batted like champions," said Ganguly. He ran on to the field after India won, straight to Mohammad Kaif and pinned the youngster down on the field in an overt display of emotion with a hint of tears in his eyes.
Ganguly said he thought India was out of the game after having lost five wickets for 146. "We thought we were out of the game. We got off to a good start but then lost important wickets." Yuvraj Singh and Kaif would return home in a couple of days as they were not part of the Test squad but Ganguly had words of encouragement for them. "They have a lot of cricketing years ahead of time and it is only a matter of time," said Ganguly. Man-of-the-match Kaif said his understanding with Yuvraj Singh was the key to their successful partnership. "I think both Yuvraj and I are good runners between the wickets and we have good combination." Kaif said the experience of sitting out a lot and not playing matches in the last two years has toughened his approach to the game.
"I have been in the one-day team for the last couple of years but didn't get a chance to play in the final eleven." For England captain Nasser Hussain too, it was the same memory of Flintoff's act that helped him and his team believe in themselves till the end but the result was a bit different this time. "We have some good memories against India and even when Flintoff came back and took those two wickets, we thought we could still win. We had memories from India where we hung in and hung in and pressure had told on the Indians."
Hussain was wholesome in praise for Kaif and Yuvraj Singh and said India do produce talented youngsters at an early age. "India does produce a lot of young players. They have Yuvraj and Kaif and boys like Wasim Jaffer in the Test team. "Yuvraj in particular played very well. We tried various things at him... but he seemed to hit it in all areas." Hussain put it on the inexperience of his bowlers to handle pressure when faced with the onslaught by the Indian batsmen. "We still lack experience in bowling. Nearly every bowler you turn to lacks experience. When they are up against a batting like that, it is going to catch you off a little bit."
Hussain said Indians have shown great form in the summer so far and it would be some task to tackle this line-up in the upcoming Test series. "They have shown a lot of class in this tournament. All of their batsmen, whether at number seven or eight, have shown a lot of class and we can't take them for granted. "Indeed, we have four more Tests to go against them and need to work out how to get this side out twice."