Mohammad Kaif retires retirement
Mohammad Kaif © AFP (file photo)

Mohammad Kaif announced his retirement from all forms of competitive cricket today, exactly 16 years after he and Yuvraj Singh had guided India to a fairytale win the NatWest Trophy final at Lord’s. The timing, as he mentioned himself, was intentional. Kaif, 37, has played 13 Tests and 125 ODIs, and was known for his gritty batting and outstanding fielding, especially at cover and cover-point.

Kaif was captain of the India Under-19s side that won their first World Cup, in 2000. He was also part of the Indian side that came runners-up in the 2003 World Cup.

“I’m writing to you today to announce my retirement from all forms of first-class cricket,” Kaif informed BCCI acting president CK Khanna and acting secretary Amitabh Chaudhary in an email. ”I am retiring today as it’s been 16 years since the historic NatWest Trophy win in which I was glad to play my part, and I’d like to remember that as I bow out. I am grateful for the opportunity to have worn the India cap, and to have gone on to play 125 ODIs and 13 Tests for India, and for several other moments.”

With bat he could shift gears at will, though the greatest of bowlers had him in trouble, especially in Test cricket. He ran extremely fast, keeping fielders on their toes. As mentioned, he was an exceptional fielder. Against Sri Lanka in 2003 he became the first non-wicketkeeper to take 4 catches in a single World Cup.

His finest performances in Test cricket were 64 and 55 in consecutive innings against Australia in 2004-05. The next year he grafted out a six-hour 91 to save the Nagpur Test against England. And though he scored a hundred at Gros Islet and averaged 57 in the series when India won a series in West Indies in 2006, he never played for India again.

Apart from that iconic 75-ball 87 not out in the NatWest Trophy final, Kaif also scored 111 not out — in his next innings — against Zimbabwe in th Champions Trophy. At that time it was the highest ODI score from No. 7.

Under Kaif, Uttar Pradesh won the Ranji Trophy in 2005-06 and came runners-up in 2007-08 and 2008-09. He also led Andhra and was Chhattisgarh’s first captain. He played for Leicestershire and Derbyshire, and was a part of the IPL-winning Rajasthan Royals. He also played for Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore.

His father Tarif and brother Saif played Ranji Trophy as well.

In between, he lost heavily in the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections for Indian National Congress from Phulpur, Uttar Pradesh.