For Indian cricket fans, the beginning of the 21st century will always be prodigious because it is considered as the commencement of the golden era of Indian cricket. After the match-fixing saga, the pair of new skipper Sourav Ganguly and coach John Wright did wonders. Under Ganguly’s captaincy and Wright’s regime, the fans witnessed a completely transformed Indian side.
During those times, Indian cricket featured a solid core of senior players such as Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, and VVS Laxman, who proved their worth in all conditions. Apart from the senior factor, another massive reason behind the team’s dominance was the emergence of many talented youngsters like Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif, who later went to become legends.
Kaif and Yuvi, in fact, changed the dynamics of Indian cricket by their acrobatic efforts in the outfield. The pair lit up the India middle-order and turned out to be one of the best finishers. No one can forget their heroics in one of India’s most famous ODI wins when India chased down the humongous total of 326 and captured the Natwest Trophy.
However, despite their success in limited-overs cricket, the journey of Kaif and Yuvraj is not impressive in Test cricket. Both had to struggle to show consistency in order to cement their spot in the Test side.
But what was the exact reason behind Kaid and Yuvraj’s failure in red-ball cricket? Well, the Prayagraj-born revealed what went wrong. While speaking to the Times of India, Kaif said that the Indian Test team then was so strong that he couldn’t fix his place in the side.
“The Indian team at that time was full of big players like Sachin, Dravid, Sehwag. So Yuvraj and I could not play many Tests, even though Yuvraj got more chances than me. I got a chance to play against England in Nagpur (in 2006) when someone got injured, and I scored 91. Then that guy got fit, and I was dropped again. So that team was so strong that I didn’t get many chances to play. They were the greats of the game, legends, players like Sachin, Dravid, inspired us,” said Kaif.
Kaif also spoke about his first Test cap which he received at the age of 19 against South Africa. He said: “I was surprised at the Test call-up. Since it was India’s first Under-19 World Cup title victory, there was a lot of media hype. There was a Challenger tournament in which most of the Under-19 players got a chance to play. I had two scores in the 90s in back-to-back matches that I played; then I was named in the Indian Test side.”
Kaif finished his Test career for India with 13 matches where he scored 624 runs at an average of just 32.84 with one century. Yuvraj, on the other hand, played 40 Tests where he only averaged 33.9 and amassed 1900 runs with three hundreds.