London: Notwithstanding the tremendous confidence and poise he showed as he guided India to a famous victory at Lord's on Saturday, Mohammed Kaif on Monday confessed neither he nor his partner Yuvraj Singh had actually believed that they could pull off the run-chase.
In a match-winning partnership, Kaif and Yuvraj Singh added 121 runs off just 106 deliveries to put India on road to victory after the team had lost five wickets for 146 while chasing 325 by England in the final of the NatWest Trophy tri-nation series. Kaif went on to play the innings of his life, an unbeaten 75-ball 87 that earned him the man-of-the-match award, but his family in Allahabad could not watch his moment of glory as they had switched their television off and gone to a theatre to watch a movie when India were looked headed for a certain defeat.
"Why my family, even we in the middle were not so sure if it would come off," said Kaif, presenting a picture of modesty and appearing absolutely bewildered at the bedlam that has followed his success. That one knock has made Kaif the most sought-after Indian cricketer at present. Till yesterday he went unnoticed in a team of superstars but today it seems the fans can't have enough of him. The signs are apparent - it is difficult to get through to him, he is out of bounds for media and the receptionist at the team hotel is absolutely tired of receiving calls on Kaif's behalf.
Kaif said like everqone else he too was very excited when India approached the target and did not know whether a direct hit from Nick Knight could have found him short of crease when he scampered for a single from the non-striker's end to tie the scores. The throw missed the stumps and the resultant overthrow saw India complete one of their most famous victories. "I am not aware if Knight could have got me short of my crease.
Things were happening too quickly," he said, reliving those tense final moments. After securing the victory, Kaif ran towards the far side of the ground with helmet raised in one hand and bat in the other. "I didn't run to that end because I was gesturing to television cameras or to my friends sitting there. I was just too excited and didn't know what was happening," he said. "In the heat of the moment and with my body in motion, I was just running all over the place."
The wiry youngster from Uttar Pradesh is now basking in his newly acquired star status and said he was still savouring the happy feeling of the winning a final for the team. "It is a very special feeling. We hadn't done well in the finals and coming and doing it at Lord's makes it a very, very special day in my life," he said. Kaif said at no time during his innings did he face any sledging from the English fielders. "Indeed, there was no verbal aggression from the England team. The only one I remember was from Nasser Hussain when he was batting against us at Chester-le- Street in one of the league games."