Ranji Digest, Round 4: Batsmen thrive, and a reckless drive
Pujara scores 12th double ton, Agarwal becomes the latest to join 300-club, and Irfan Pathan is left in the lurch
Mohammad Kaif is a classic case of a youngster with immense talent losing his way as the stakes became bigger. It started with the 2000 Under-19 World Cup, where Kaif (and Yuvraj Singh) first came into the limelight as India won the tournament. He made his Test debut the same year against South Africa in Bangalore. But he could never really cement his spot in the Test team, even if he was one of the first names to be pencilled into the One-day International squad. The innings that remains in the mind, of course, is the match-winning unbeaten 75-ball 87 he slammed to help India chase down 326 in the 2002 NatWest Trophy final at Lord’s. His partner was Yuvraj. Their careers were running almost like parallels at the time; no room in the Test squad unless one of the top dogs was out with an injury, but regulars in the ODI side. The two of them were also partners in the off-side fielding cordon – Yuvraj at point, Kaif at cover; both of them brilliant. But Kaif’s career spiralled downward steadily after that. He did grab the few opportunities that came his way though. First, replacing Yuvraj in the Nagpur Test against England in 2006, he scored a match-saving 91. And then, replacing the injured Sachin Tendulkar in the St Lucia Test against West Indies the same year, Kaif returned with an unbeaten 148. But Kaif gradually faded into international oblivion. He’s still around of course. With the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League after making the rounds of Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab.