Mohammad Kaif, coming from Uttar Pradesh gained prominence in the cricketing circles after leading India’s U-19 team to World Cup victory in 2000, with a team comprising Yuvraj Singh, Ajay Ratra and Reetinder Sodhi – who later went on to represent India.
Kaif’s consistent performance in domestic cricket and a solid batting technique earned him his maiden Test cap at the age of 20 against South Africa. But somehow, Kaif failed to make an instant impact at the international level and later was dropped. Then in 2001-02, he was drafted back into the ODI squad and it was in 2002, Kaif made headlines after playing a match-winning knock against England in the NatWest final at Lord’s.
Kaif scored a scintillating unbeaten 87 and led India to victory chasing a huge target of 326. Then he followed it up with a century against Zimbabwe in the ICC Champions Trophy. Kaif, somehow lost momentum but for his fielding credentials got a longer run before getting dropped again after poor 2005-06 season.Kaif, who played for India in 125 ODIs and 13 Tests, is celebrating his 36th birthday today.