VVS Laxman tried to stop me from going shirtless at Lord’s in 2002: Sourav Ganguly

Its an indelible image in the history of Indian cricket. Sourav Ganguly, topless and waving his blue India jersey above his head, the other hand clenched in a first pump, celebrating animatedly seconds after one of the most famous overseas ODI wins by any Indian team. The setting was Lord’s, the spiritual home of cricket, and India  had just pulled off a record chase of 325 with two wickets and three deliveries left.

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July 13, 2002 will forever be rightfully remembered for the heroic partnership between the Man of the Match, Mohammad Kaif, and Yuvraj Singh, that clinched India the Natwest Series. And yet the sight of Ganguly baring his torso, swinging his Team India jersey while offering a few choice adjectives on the Lord’s balcony is equally evocative.

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But do you know that it almost did not happen?

In the latest episode of the Gaurav Kapur-hosted web show Breakfast with Champions, Ganguly has revealed that VVS Laxman tried to stop him from taking off his shirt given that the TV cameras would immediately record his movements.

“I was standing on the right side. VVS Laxman was on my left and Harbhajan Singh was behind my back. So, as I was removing my T-shirt, VVS tried to tell me, ‘Don’t do it, don’t do it!’ After I removed my shirt, he asked, ‘What do I do now?’ And I said, ‘You also remove your shirt!’,” said the former India captain, who led the team to a 76 ODI wins, a record that was surpassed by MS Dhoni.

And was it a pre-empted move or a spur of the moment reaction to a sensational series victory?

“The idea came to my mind just at the moment. I remembered how Andrew Flintoff took off his shirt at Wankhede to celebrate a 3-3 series draw before, and I just thought why not do the same at Lord’s,” said Ganguly.

Looking back, the 46-year-old admitted that it was not his proudest moment as an international cricketer. “I am also embarrassed about the incident. My daughter once asked, ‘Why did you do that? Is it necessary to do that in cricket?’ And I had to tell her that ‘No, I did it once by mistake’. Somethings things happen in life in which you do not have any control,” he said.