Karachi: Mohammed Kaif is crucial to Greg Chappell's plans for
Mission 2007. The Uttar Pradesh batsman has come a long way from being
known for his athletic fielding to a recognized middle-order bat in the
one-dayers. The affable, big-hearted and always jovial Kaif spoke to
The Telegraph on Saturday evening.
The following are excerpts:
Q You are increasingly being branded as a one-day player. Does it
A I think I am gradually getting to be an integral part of Team India
in the shorter version of the game. I have done well in the last couple
of months, but there's no guarantee that I will be in the Test squad.
In the last five years, I have played only eight Tests.
Given a choice I would give Test cricket top priority. One would love
to perform consistently in Tests than in one-dayers. I don't want to
be seen as a one-day player. But this is something which is not in my
I have performed in the Tests and at the domestic level whenever the
opportunity has arrived. Uttar Pradesh won the Ranji Trophy this time
under my leadership. You also have to ask the selectors about it... My
goal is just to keep performing. I also realize I'm getting older
How do you view Chappell's policy of promoting the youngsters?
It's good... The guys have been performing and that's the key. The
coach and captain do make a difference to the performance of an
individual, but ultimately it is the player who has to go out there and
do it on the field. Their success has been great for the team.
What difference have you seen in the functioning of John Wright and
I don't want to compare them, but the style and functioning of each
and every individual is different. We played the World Cup final under
John and he did a good job.
Greg is gelling well with the team and the guys are also understanding
him. He has been around for eight months now, and the experience has
Has there been any difference between them as far as preparing for a
match is concerned?
Both have shared their experiences and worked hard with the players.
The ways of two different individuals can never be the same. John did a
good job in his own way. Greg, too, has his own style of functioning
and has been successful.
Did you undertake any special drills to improve your fielding or it
just came naturally?
It all started during the formative years at the Kanpur hostel. We used
to have fun in the rain playing soccer and softball cricket. It takes
time to master the art of diving and throwing one on the field. The
first time you dive you get injured. It's a matter of trying,
falling, getting up and again trying. You should be brave enough to get
the technique right and have the guts to live with the pain. I always
used to enjoy doing it and one day I found it was coming rather
Unfortunately in India, fielding is never given much importance at
coaching centres. You take a few catches and pick up and throw a few
balls... That is how it ends for most on a given day. Most of the
emphasis is on batting and bowling at nets. This culture needs to
You always bat at No. 5 or 6. Isn't it a problem to score runs at
It's tough in the sense that you get less number of overs to bat. But
it's a team game and you should stick to it and perform accordingly.
The team always comes first. I have no complaints for batting lower
down the order.
Your most memorable innings so far?
Quite a few... The century against Zimbabwe in Colombo in the Champions
Trophy in 2002, the match-winning knock in the NatWest final at
Lord's the same year... Our Ranji Trophy win after 72 years will also
Do you think you have got your due?
I don't think about those things. I concentrate only on my game. When
the country wins I feel proud, enjoy the moment and relive the memory.
I don't have any long-term goals... In the end, only performance
counts. That keeps me going. It's a great honour and pride to wear
the India colours. For me, there are no regrets... Life goes on.
Quoting a modest Kaif: I think I am gradually getting to be an integral
part of Team India in the shorter version of the game. I have done well
in the last couple of months, but there's no guarantee that I will be
in the Test squad. In the last five years, I have played only eight
I am somewhat surprised that he says he is 'getting to be an integral
part of Team India in the shorter version of the game.' Personally I
thin his value is on somewhat of a downswing.
IMHO Kaif is a super fielder but I wonder whether his batting is really
suited to ODIs in view of the present members of the current ODI team.
He did not have any good innings in Pakistan and IIRC had ducks in the
last 2 times he went to bat.
Kaif of course does not really bowl these days so his UP youngster
teammate Raina seems equal or ahead in all aspects expect experience.
If we had to drop one of the present batsmen in the ODI squad, I would
think that Kaif probably is one of the main names in contention. Let's
see what he does against England.
I wonder what others think.