One of the safest pairs of hands ever seen in Indian cricket belonged to Mohammad Kaif and at this difficult juncture due to the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown, he urges everyone to take necessary precaution and stay indoors, much like what plenty of batsmen did when they saw the ball going towards him in the cover region.
On an Instagram live session on the Helo App, Kaif touched upon a variety of topics including why he took up cricket, his altercation with England captain Nasser Hussain after the Natwest Series final in 2002.
Kaif, who hails from Allahabad, and was one of Sourav Ganguly’s trusted Colonels, said that current India captain Virat Kohli and his Royal Challengers Bangalore teammate AB de Villiers are among the best fielders, possibly the only ones in the league of the great Jonty Rhodes.
“Virat is a good fielder, Ab de villiers does awesome diving! But Ajay Jadeja is the best I have seen and Yuvraj Singh was also very good. Mohammed Azharuddin and Robin Singh are also good fielders,” Kaif listed out.
Kaif along with Yuvraj and Suresh Raina formed a troika on the off-side which was considered to be the safest at the time, helping India win plenty of games and adding a ferocious dimension to the team like Sourav Ganguly wanted.
Kaif has never shied away from picking Ganguly as his favourite captain said that New Zealander John Wright as his favourite coach. Ganguly and Wright were instrumental in leading India come through a difficult phase with flying colours. However, Kaif further added that the next coach Greg Chappell, someone Indian cricket can never forget, was excellent when it came to providing batting tips.
“Greg chappell had great batting skills and tips for batsmen and many new comers like Suresh Raina used to like him. But there is a ego quotient thing with him too.”
Speaking about a couple of players in the current India set-up, Kaif explained that it was important for Hardik Pandya to take care of his fitness.
“Hardik Pandya is a good player and if he can maintain his fitness, being an all-rounder he can do wonders I feel. Jasprit Bumrah is also a great player and has a long way to go.”
In 2002 at Lord’s, Kaif became India’s hero as he guided India home in a landmark win against England in the final of the Natwest Series. Much later he admitted that even his family had switched off the TV and lost all hope after his hero Sachin Tendulkar had been dismissed. Nonetheless, Kaif had the last laugh and even managed to leave Nasser Hussain absolutely shell shocked.
“I used to talk a lot (I’m a chatter box), so that his concentration falls down while they were batting. Later Nasser Hussain called Kaif a 'bus driver',” Kaif recollected the moment when he was walking out to bat and the England team had a few words to say.
“I replied him, it’s not a bad innings for a bus driver,” Kaif said he had told Hussain after the final.