India news July 11, 2014

Mohammad Kaif set for Andhra move

Mohammad Kaif, the former India batsman, is set to leave Uttar Pradesh and join Andhra for the upcoming domestic season.

Kaif, who has led Uttar Pradesh to two Ranji Trophy finals, had a miserable first-class season last year. In 11 first-class games, Kaif managed just 265 runs at 16.56, failing to raise a fifty. After UP were bowed out in the Ranji quarter-finals to eventual champions Karnataka, Kaif found some form by hitting two fifties in the central zone one-dayers. Following the the lackluster season, Kaif contested the general elections for the Indian National Congress but lost from the Phulpur constituency in UP.

According to Andhra Cricket Association's director of cricket MSK Prasad, Kaif's form with the bat was the last thing on their mind when they decided to rope him in.

"For a side like ours with an average age of 22, we were looking to bring in someone experienced who could lift the spirit of the side," Prasad told ESPNcricinfo. "Kaif is one guy who can build that spirit within the team. That's the reason we have picked him."

Andhra finished third from bottom in the lowest rung of the Ranji Trophy last year. With Amol Muzumdar, the domestic stalwart who was a professional with them for two years, leaving Andhra midway through the season, the young side lacked the finishing touch towards the end of the season.

"Our youngsters need a role model to look up to, one guy who they could look up to and walk up to for anything they require," Prasad said. "We couldn't have asked for a better person than Kaif for this role. He is someone who has achieved the maximum with minimum cricket."

Kaif spent some time at the ACA academies last month and was impressed with the facilities. According to Prasad, Kaif is "looking forward to the challenge". Kaif will work with the new coach R Sridhar, who has replaced New Zealander Kaushilk Patel as the head coach for the new season.

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo