When Sourav Ganguly removed his shirt in 2002 NatWest series, he perhaps did not know that this photograph will become iconic in the pantheon of Cricket. The game of cricket is often refer to as the gentleman’s game. In soccer it is common place for players to take off shirt after a goal is scored or a match is won. Captains exchange shirts at the end of the soccer game. But in cricket, if a team’s captain takes off his shirt in celebration of a victory; many would think it is pure madness! But Indian captain Sourav Ganguly did exactly that.
Sourav Ganguly found both admirers and critics for his action of removing shirt after India pulled off a sensational win in the final of NatWest Series in November 2002. Photographs of Ganguly brandishing his Team India light blue shirt from the balcony of the Pavilion in the Lord’s ground became one of the iconic photos in the history of cricket. But that action of Ganguly was a signal that Indian team was much more confident of its abilities than it was in 1980s when Kapil Dev had won the World Cup as an underdog team.
The match in NatWest series was played between India and England. The England team posted a total of 325-5 with Nasser Hussain scoring 115, his only one day century, and Marcus Trescothick also scoring 109. It was a mountain of a target to climb but India achieved the feat by making 326 runs with the loss of 8 wickets; thanks to Mohammad Kaif scoring 87 and Yuvraj Singh contributing 69 runs. Ganguly, who contributed 60 runs in the chase, erupted in joy as soon as Kaif and Zaheer Khan completed the winning runs. Here is the video of this memorable moment.
Many believed that Sourav’s removal of shirt was a reaction for the Andrew Flintoff’s action. Flintoff, an English player, had removed his shirt and waved it at the Mumbai crowd after beating India in a previous match. Sourav wanted to give it back to Flintoff.
Update (on 13 February 2015): Recently, Rajiv Shukla revealed that Sourav had also asked VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendular to remove their shirts and celebrate the victory. But, according to Shukla (visible in the above photograph), all three of them politely refused to do so. Refusal from his illustrious teammates did not deter Sourav and he went on to remove his shirt and waved it in jubilation.
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