CT 2002 Flashback: India clinch a sensational come from behind victory against the Proteas in the semi-final

India eventually won the semi-final by 10 runs courtesy some exceptional bowling in the death overs.

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India eventually won the semi-final by 10 runs courtesy some exceptional bowling in the death overs.
VVS Laxman, Ashish Nehra, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Dinesh Mongia of India celebrate victory after the ICC Champions Trophy semi-final match. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

If you look back at the history of Indian cricket especially in the limited overs format, this victory will definitely stand as one of the most incredible come from behind victory by the Men in Blue. The year was 2002 and India were set to lock horns with the mighty Proteas in the 1st Semi-final of the ICC Champions Trophy way back in 2002. Both sides were evenly matches and we were set for a cracker jack of contest.

India sets up a competitive total

On the back of brilliant half-centuries by Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh, India posted a competitive 261 on the board which was a very challenging total especially 15 years back. Rahul Dravid also chipped in with a well composed 49 which helped the Men in Blue go past the 250 mark. It was 58 balls 59 by Sehwag which got India off to a solid start. Shaun Pollock was the pick of the South African bowlers finishing with 3/43 in 9 overs.

Herschelle Gibbs smashes the Indian bowlers all round the park

Chasing a relatively competitive total, South Africa got off to the worst possible start losing Graeme Smith in the final delivery of 3rd over. From there on, Gibbs and Jacques Kallis took charge and started taking the Indian bowlers on. They executed some brilliant shots to perfection and made the Indian bowling line-up look clueless.

It looked like South Africa was coasting towards that target and the end seemed near for India. Gibbs completed his century in the 32nd over of Sachin Tendulkar as South Africa were looking in complete control of proceedings. Kallis on the other hand also played some exquisite shots to take the Proteas beyond the 190 mark before Gibbs sustained a hamstring injury which eventually forced him to leave the field with South Africa stranded on 192/1. He was batting on 116 and his injury totally changed the complexion of the match within a matter of seconds

The Harbhajan Singh over

Harbahjan Singh of India
Harbhajan Singh of India celebrates dismissing Jonty Rhodes of South Africa during the ICC Champions Trophy semi-final match between India and South Africa at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, Sri Lanka on September 25, 2002. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images.)

Following Herschelle Gibbs’ injury, India clawed their way back into the match with twin wickets in the 39th over. It was Harbhajan Singh who bagged two back to back wickets to ignite the hopes of the Indian spectators. It was a mind-boggling catch from Yuvraj Singh to send back Jonty Rhodes as the right-hander went for a slog sweep. He got an outside edge and was brilliantly grabbed by Yuvi at the short fine leg region.

In the same over it was the turn of Boeta Dippennar to head back to the pavilion as he top edged a short of length delivery from Harbhajan straight to the fine leg fielder. Anil Kumble stationed there completed a straight forward catch.

Some tight overs in between

The Indian spinners applied the pressure on the Proteas batsmen and they were unable to execute the big shots. Despite Jacques Kallis being there in the middle, the South African batsman struggled against the spinners which also showed in their scorecard. From a commanding position, they were faced with a tricky position when Virender Sehwag dismissed Mark Boucher in the 44th over. They were still in need of 49 more of the remaining 3 deliveries and it was game on.

The final tale

The 1999 World Cup hero Lance Klusner walked out in the middle to join Kallis and ate up 21 deliveries for his 14. Despite 6 wickets in hand, the Proteas kept choking in the final overs. They were left to score 21 in the final over and interestingly Sehwag was handed over the ball by Ganguly.

He was smashed for a big six over the mid-wicket boundary in the first delivery which kept the Proteas interested but his dismissal in the next delivery was the final nail in the coffin as he felt agonisingly close of a well-deserved century. Eventually, Sehwag also bagged the wicket of Lance Klusner in the final delivery of the match to hand India a 10 runs victory in the end.

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