Mohammad Kaif made his way into the Indian team after being the captain of the India U19 World Cup-winning team in 2000. Yuvraj Singh was also part of that tournament. After the World Cup, the two young cricketers were fast-tracked into the Indian team with Kaif being the first to get a call-up. He made his Test debut in 2000 at a very young age but ended up playing only 13 Tests for the Indian team.
In a recent interview, the former Indian cricketer revealed that his Test call-up was quite surprising to him as well. He recalled that he made two good scores in a Challenger Trophy tournament after the U19 World Cup. This, in fact, laid the foundation for him to get a national call-up. Eventually, he made his Test debut against South Africa in 2000 in Bengaluru.
That team was so strong that I didn’t get many chances, says Mohammad Kaif
“I was surprised at the Test call-up. Since it was India’s first Under-19 World Cup title victory, there was a lot of media hype. There was a Challenger tournament in which most of the Under-19 players got a chance to play. I had two scores in the 90s in back-to-back matches that I played, then I was named in the Indian Test side,” Kaif said while speaking to Times of India.
Being only a 19-year-old didn’t benefit his chances. Mohammad Kaif scored 12 and 23 on his Test debut. Facing quality bowlers like Shaun Pollock and Allan Donald was always going to be difficult for the young batsman from Uttar Pradesh.
During the interview, the 39-year-old pointed out that the Indian team during the 2000s had some really big superstars which didn’t allow him or Yuvraj Singh to get too many opportunities in Test cricket. Unlike Kaif though the latter played 40 Tests. However, he never really got an opportunity to solidify his spot in the longest format.
“The Indian team at that time was full of big players like Sachin, Dravid, Sehwag. So I and Yuvraj could not play many Tests, even though Yuvraj got more chances than me. I got a chance to play against England in Nagpur (in 2006) when someone got injured and I scored 91. Then that guy got fit and I was dropped again.
“So that team was so strong that I didn’t get many chances to play. They were the greats of the game, legends, players like Sachin, Dravid, inspired us,” Mohammad Kaif further added. He scored 624 runs in 13 Tests at an average of 32.84. Interestingly, during his last Test tour, he had scored his highest score of 148 against the West Indies in 2006.
Between 2000 and 2006, he managed to play regular ODI cricket for India featuring in 125 matches, last of which was in 2006 against South Africa.
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