K.C. Vijaya Kumar
Bangalore: There is no rancour. No ‘I-deserved-better’ lines. Mohammad Kaif last played for India in an ODI against South Africa at Port Elizabeth on November 29, 2006 and yet he displays a calmness of mind that keeps complaint boxes at bay. “It’s the past. I don’t want to get negative and say stuff like ‘may be bad luck, may be misfortune.’ It doesn’t work that way. I am focussed on scoring runs in the domestic level and that’s the only route to the National team,” Kaif said
At 27, Kaif is at a crossroads while the National squad oscillates between seniors in Tests and juniors in ODIs. Kaif’s comeback dream however rages on. “I want to come back. How long will it take? Six months? One year? May be five years? I will wait. I don’t give up that easily. Yes, I understand that a lot of talented youngsters are coming up and selectors have a tough job and all I can do is score consistently. I scored more than 1,300 first class runs last season and that is something that I have never done in nearly eight years of first class cricket,” Kaif said.
And it is the runs that he churned for Uttar Pradesh and Central Zone that helped him flicker briefly into public memory as the selectors included him in the Test squad midwayduring the series against South Africa earlier this year. “It felt great to be back then though I did not make it to the playing eleven. I am now looking at the season ahead and I want to get better and better and that’s the reason why I am here at the NCA,” Kaif said.
For a player, who first played for India in Tests with a debut against Hansie Cronje’s South Africans here at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in March 2000, Kaif was subsequently slotted as a one-day specialist.
Did pigeon-holing him as an ODI player hurt his Test prospects? “I don’t know. I was considered to be a one-day player though I did get limited chances in Tests and I scored my best, a 148 not out in the West Indies. After that I played three more innings and then missed out. But as far as I am concerned, the cricketing base should be correct and that will help you in Tests or in ODIs or even in Twenty20s,” Kaif said.