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Kaif eyes county success, Test spot
Kunal Pradhan | June 02, 2003 16:02 IST
Mohammad Kaif wants to use his stint with English county Derbyshire as a stepping stone for a return to the Test team.
The 22-year-old, firmly established in the Indian one-day side with a series of match-winning performances over the last year, is now gunning for a permanent place in the Test squad.
"I plan to take my job at Derbyshire very seriously," Kaif said before leaving for England.
"As the overseas pro, I'd like to not only help my team but also use the opportunity to develop my own game, learn to play long innings and get into the Test side."
Kaif has already had a baptism by fire in the Indian Test team during his debut as a 19-year-old against South Africa in 2000. He scored 12 and 23 in a losing cause in Bangalore and failed again in three Tests in Sri Lanka the following year.
A major reason for that was the inability early in his career to handle quick bowlers targeting his rib-cage.
But on the one-day front, he has not looked back since making his debut against England early last year. Kaif has scored 1,072 runs in 53 matches at 30.62 batting usually at number six.
His most celebrated knock was an unbeaten 87 against England in the final of a triangular tournament at Lord's to enable India chase an unlikely 326 for victory.
DUE TO START
He said: "I've learnt a lot over the last year as a member of the one-day team.
"I can handle short bowling a lot better now. I'm sure the county experience where I'll play against some of the best players in the world, will only add to that."
Kaif, due to start playing for Derbyshire on Wednesday against Glamorgan at Swansea, is part of a strong contingent that will add an Indian flavour to the county championship this season.
Explosive opener Virender Sehwag (Leicestershire), left-hander Yuvraj Singh (Yorkshire) and Rahul Dravid (Scotland) are already doing duty for their teams, while Harbhajan Singh (Lancashire) is set to follow early next month.
"It'll be fun to have so many Indian players in action at the same time," said Kaif. "Apart from our county team mates, we'll also have each other to fall back on."