Sourav Ganguly’s iconic shirt-waiving at Lord’s after India won the NatWest Series final against England is etched in memory. Nearly two decades after that famous Indian win, Ganguly’s act is still talked about with fondness.
Ganguly is often asked about that Sunday afternoon at the Mecca of Cricket and the former India captain believes that the question had a shelf life. However, in a recent interview with India Today, said Virat Kohli would run down Oxford Street if India won the World Cup in England in 2019.
During Boria Majumdar’s book launch, Eleven Gods and a Billion Indians, Ganguly repeated his famous line in Kohli’s presence. “HE WILL TAKE HIS SHIRT OFF IN OXFORD STREET… We better get our cameras ready. Kohli has his six packs. I won’t be surprised if he takes his shirt off.”
Kohli responded by saying he will walk around shirtless and not just that – he will be joined by Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah.
“”I don’t think it will only be me. For sure, Hardik will be following me. 120 per cent. Bumrah is there as well because he has six packs too. He is there in the game. There will be a few candidates,” Kohli said.
Kohli was only 13 when India chased down that record score against England. Ganguly and Virender Sehwag had started off sensationally but they were soon pegged back after losing a few wickets. Dismayed, Kohli went off to sleep. He was later woken up by his brother, who informed a young Virat that India were winning.
On July 13, 2002 as India successfully chased down England’s 325, millions of Indians around the world celebrated. Among them was India’s future captain, who had to be woken up by his brother.
India had blazed away to 106 off 14.2 overs before Ganguly was dismised. However, they lost a flurry of wickets after and were reduced to 146/5 when Sachin Tendulkar was dismissed. That was when Kohli lost all hope and decided to call it a night.
“I clearly remember that night. The game started brilliantly. Those totals were very difficult to get. I slept off when we were five down. I went off to sleep. My brother woke me up and he said we were winning. I was like: ‘what are you talking about?'”
Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif had orchestrated one of the greatest chases in ODI history when a young Virat slept. The duo added 121 for the sixth wicket and while Yuvraj (87) fell with victory still some distance away, Kaif kept his cool and saw India through.
The celebration that followed was a moment to cherish for Indian fans and Kohli remembers that moment.
“You are not worried about being judged. You cannot be a robot. You have to be honest to yourself.
“If you are not yourself, you will sleep with regrets. I am sure that moment was very organic – he did not care whether he was at the Lord’s balcony. He could have been anywhere in the world. That was just pure human emotion coming out.”
“That moment was organic, that is how he wanted to enjoy himself after the win. It was just pure joy. It is very important to be honest to yourself.”
Kohli burst into a laughter when Ganguly said VVS Laxman was trying to stop him from taking his shirt off.