It could so easily have been the start of a wonderful run in international cricket. That it continues to be, and will almost certainly remain, the highpoint of Mohammad Kaif's career is a sad reflection not merely of unfulfilled promise, but also of selectorial quirks that are an integral part of the sport.
When all appeared lost for India at Lord's on July 13, 2002, two young men as different in character as chalk is from cheese but who were singularly comfortable in each other's company joined hands to fashion a victory that was to catalyse India's campaign at the 2003 World Cup. Kaif and Yuvraj Singh, young guns who had been an integral part of India's Under-19 triumph in 2000, showed that senior cricket wasn't a bridge too far at the home of cricket, their stirring association with the established guns back in the pavilion the stuff of dreams.
To chase down 325 is an arduous task, no matter what. To have to do it in a cup final where runs on the board is gold dust is even more demanding. To have to do it from 146 for five, with Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar all dismissed, calls for not just talent and ability, but also character, temperament and a strong mind.