Mohammad Kaif, famously remembered for leading the Indian side to a remarkable win over England in the 2002 Natwest final, answered questions from fans in a live presentation for Sportskeeda.
Among several other revelations, Kaif said he’d spotted Bhuvneshwar Kumar as a lanky 17-year old in a training camp and urged selectors to pick him. The teenager then went on to dismiss Sachin Tendulkar for a duck in the latter half of the Ranji season that year.
Kaif played 13 Tests and 125 ODIs for India, and also chanced his arm in a few IPL seasons – for Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore. He was famous for expertly finding the gaps in the field and converting singles into doubles. Kaif also redefined the role of a fielder in Indian cricket and is now remembered as one of the most athletic Indian fielders ever.
Here are a few excerpts from his podcast.
On Bhuvneshwar Kumar
“Talking in terms of the ongoing IPL, I think Bhuvneshwar Kumar is the best in the business. He is doing exceptionally well and his death bowling is improving with each day. The best of batsmen are unable to play him.
“I have a small story to tell of Bhuvneshwar. When I was the captain of UP in 2007, a 17-year old thin and lanky Bhuvneshwar had come to Bangalore for a training camp. He exhibited exceptional skills during the training and got the better of big names in the batting department.
“It was then when I brought Bhuvi’s performances to the notice of the selectors and since I was the captain, the selectors paid heed to my suggestion of playing the youngster in Ranji Trophy that year.
“We reached the finals of Ranji that year where we played the Mumbai team. And Bhuvi dismissed Sachin Tendulkar on duck in that match! He is a complete package – he developed from a swing bowler to a death bowler, bowling yorkers outside off stump.
“Yorkers bang on leg stump, slower balls, back of the hand slower ball. In addition to the swing that he generates, he has become a complete package and his future looks bright.
“Bhuvi is a hardworking guy who played domestic cricket for nearly 5 years before making an international debut. He is reaping the fruits of the hard work today. “
On his fitness mantra
“People nowadays are increasingly becoming health conscious and wish to remain fit. The first funda to fitness is to avoid too much of spicy and oily food. We Indians tend to use a lot of gravy in our food items, which contains a lot of masala (spices). This can be taken care of and avoided.
“Secondly, your breakfast should be your healthiest meal and contrary to how most people rush their breakfast, you must take your time to finish a complete healthy breakfast.
“On the other hand, dinner should not be very heavy but people spend adequate amount of time stuffing themselves at the dinner table. In order to remain fit, one has to spend more time on their breakfast than on their dinner. Items like fruits, juices, eggs, brown bread, porridge should be incorporated in your breakfast meal.
“I personally like to keep eating throughout the day and have my meals every second hour, but you don’t need to stuff yourself. Only make sure your system has enough energy to keep operating on a long day”
About MS Dhoni
“Dhoni’s recent innings against the Sunrises Hyderabad proved that he is a great player. He is the kind of player you can never write-off irrespective of how many poor innings he plays. He has been the role model for Indian cricket, a leader who is setting examples for young players.
“He is a one in a century kind of player and I don’t think we will be able to find another MS Dhoni in Indian cricket.”
The best bowlers in the world today
“Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan is exceptional. Playing his first IPL, he has shown great promise. He has control, his ball fizzes through the air and reaches the batter quickly. There is revolution on the ball and he believes in his skills.
“Rashid’s googly is quite tricky to pick owing to the speed imparted on the ball. Generally, leg spinners give a lot of flight, but Rashid bowls it quicker through the air.
“KKR’s Nathan Coulter-Nile is also a great talent who bowled exceptionally well in the recently played KKR vs RCB game. The pace at which he bowled and won his team the match was brilliant.
“Delhi’s Chris Morris and KKR’s Sunil Narine are also as good.”