Mohammed Kaif, an enigma?
The name Mohammed Kaif will surely ring a bell in the minds of Indian cricket‘s most ardent followers.
Or does it? Kaif, who at 31, languishes in the memories of his past heroics, has become an ‘unwanted man’ in Indian cricket (blame it on the ‘bunch of jokers’ as Mohinder Amarnath had rightly said!).
Flashback to the 2002 Natwest series final, where England had India on the mat at 146/5, with Tendulkar, Ganguly and Dravid having departed early.
So, on came a young Kaif, ready to assist another star in the making, Yuvraj Singh, to help India atleast reach a decent total, forget chasing the mammoth 325 run target.
But, Kaif had other plans, as he put up an amazing 121 run partnership with Yuvraj, and helped India to a famous victory (Ganguly’s shirt-swinging moment at the Lords balcony was the stuff of dreams!).
That win made Kaif and Yuvraj, overnight stars in Indian cricket, and a bright and shiny future looked eminent for both.
Kaif, became a regular in the Indian ODI team during the Wright-Ganguly era, and made a name for himself, courtesy his solid lower order batting, and great fielding ability (remember his amazing run out of England’s Nick Knight in the 2003 World Cup!).
But, though as the years rolled on, Yuvraj (though still not a regular in the Indian Test side), cemented his place as a mainstay in the Indian ODI squad, whereas Kaif, lost his place, courtesy his ‘loss of form’. (as they made us believe anyway!)
Once out (or forced out!), Kaif saw his place being taken up by players like Robin Uthappa, and till date has never even been considered in the probables for the Indian team.
Though, Kaif has returned back to the grind called domestic cricket, since his ouster, and has scored runs by the dozen (the writer remembers a certain Amol Mazumdar!), still things look bleak, as a call up to the Indian team does not look realistic as of now for the Uttar Pradesh skipper.
As former leggie Anil Kumble has rightly said about Kaif still having a few years of cricket left in him, even the writer agrees that Kaif has it in him to make it to the Indian team once again.
But, sadly, a mix of both mismanagement and politics has ensured that Kaif will probably find his dream of playing for India once more, equivalent to searching for an oasis in a desert.
And, it may well signal the end of a career, which promised so much, but has now left Kaif looking like an enigma, living in his glorious past!