“It’s my new innings and I have to take a fresh guard,” this was what cricketer turned politician Mohammad Kaif said soon after being named the Congress candidate for the Lok Sabha election from Phulpur in Uttar Pradesh.
A native of Allahabad, Kaif has become the first-ever active cricketer to join politics. He was playing for Uttar Pradesh in the Vijay Haraze Trophy’s Central Zone league in Jaipur a week ago.
“Politics is like cricket where you have to plan all your innings as per the situation, and now I am here to serve the society,” 33-year-old Kaif told HT after a meeting with Congress top brass in New Delhi. “I have served the game with honesty and dedication and I would love to serve the society with the same zeal and enthusiasm,” said Kaif, who has played 13 Tests and 125 One-day Internationals before playing his last international match in 2006 against South Africa at Port Elizabeth.
“It’s a honour for me that I have been named a candidate from Phulpur, a constituency once represented by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru,” he said.
Before Kaif, another cricketer from Allahabad Jyoti Yadav had contested the assembly elections from the ruling Samajwadi Party. Yadav finished a distant third and ended up losing his deposit.
Kaif, who led India to Youth World Cup title in 2000, was at the peak of his career in 2002, when he struck an unbeaten 87 as India successfully chased 326 for victory in the NatWest series in England. An exceptional fielder, Kaif was the most expensive player in the Rajasthan Royals IPL team in the first season.