Mohammad Kaif, the former India batsman, will lead Ranji Trophy debutants Chhattisgarh in the 2016-17 domestic season. The announcement was made by Chhattisgarh State Cricket Sangh at a press conference in Raipur, also attended by newly-appointed head coach Sulakshan Kulkarni.

Kaif's two-year contract with Andhra, which could have been extended by a year based on performance, wasn't renewed after the 2015-16 season where the side finished bottom of their group to be relegated to Group C for the upcoming season. Kaif endured a lean season with the bat, scoring 330 runs in 13 innings at 27.50.

Prior to his association with Andhra, Kaif, who played 13 Tests and 125 One-Day Internationals, was an integral part of the Uttar Pradesh set-up for close to a decade-and-a-half since making his first-class debut in 1997-98. He was instrumental in UP's march to their maiden Ranji Trophy title in 2005-06, where they beat Bengal on the basis of a first-innings lead in Lucknow.

Renowned for being a gritty batsman and an excellent fielder, Kaif has 9974 runs in 177 first-class matches at an average of 39.89.

The Chhattisgarh State Cricket Sangh, which was an associate member of the BCCI, was elevated to full-member status after a special general meeting in February this year, paving the way for their Ranji Trophy debut in the forthcoming season. They will be the 28th team to feature in the tournament's 83rd edition, and will be the tenth team in Group C.