Azharuddin enthralls his fans at Khaleej Times headquarters

The former India captain believes there is nothing wrong in exploiting the home conditions amid the raging debate over the pitch in Nagpur where India beat Australia inside three days in the first Test match recently

by

Rituraj Borkakoty

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Former Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin during a meet and greet session at the Khaleej Times headquarters in Dubai. — Photo by Neeraj Murali
Former Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin during a meet and greet session at the Khaleej Times headquarters in Dubai. — Photo by Neeraj Murali

Published: Mon 13 Feb 2023, 11:37 PM

Records are meant to be broken, but there have been a few that have stood the test of time in cricket.

Nobody has ever come remotely close to Don Bradman’s staggering Test batting average of 99.94.

Then Sachin Tendulkar’s hundred international centuries is another landmark that will not be easily matched, especially after Virat Kohli lost three years of his prime to a frustrating lean phase with the bat.

Former Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin during a meet and greet session at the Khaleej Times headquarters in Dubai. — Photos by Neeraj Murali
Former Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin during a meet and greet session at the Khaleej Times headquarters in Dubai. — Photos by Neeraj Murali

But there was another batsman, Mohammad Azharuddin, whose name has never featured among the greatest in the history of the game.

Nevertheless, Azhar’s name still evokes emotion in cricket.

Perhaps, it was for his artistry with the bat and as Shane Warne once said, Azhar used a wand instead of piece of willow.

It was with that wand that Azhar burst onto the scene in 1984, scoring three hundreds against England in his first three Test matches, a record that nobody has come close to matching.

It’s been 23 years since he last played for India when he scored a breathtaking hundred, his 22nd in Test matches, against the Allan Donald-led South African bowling attack.

Former Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin during a meet and greet session at the Khaleej Times headquarters in Dubai. — Photo by Neeraj Murali
Former Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin during a meet and greet session at the Khaleej Times headquarters in Dubai. — Photo by Neeraj Murali

His shot-making had such a mesmeric effect on the cricketing romantics that hundreds of fans flocked to the Khaleej Times headquarters for a meet and greet session with the former Indian captain.

It was not a surprise that Azhar is now beginning to fall in love with the batsmanship of Shubman Gill, the graceful young Indian batsman who is now scoring hundreds for fun.

“One youngster who has really impressed me is Shubman Gill. I think he is going to be one of the big players in the future,” Azhar told the audience.

Azhar also revealed how he dealt with the pressure of captaincy.

“When I went into bat, I never went there thinking that I am the captain. At that moment, in the middle of the pitch, I was just another player, another batsman who was trying to score runs for his team,” he said.

The bulk of Azhar’s Test wins as India captain came on the tailor-made pitches for the Indian spinners in the 1990s.

Fans at the meet and greet session at the Khaleej Times headquarters in Dubai. — Photo by Neeraj Murali
Fans at the meet and greet session at the Khaleej Times headquarters in Dubai. — Photo by Neeraj Murali

The 60-year-old believes there is nothing wrong in exploiting the home conditions amid the raging debate over the pitch in Nagpur where India beat Australia inside three days in the first Test match recently.

“When you are playing at the international level, you have to adapt to different conditions in different countries,” he said.

“When our team also go abroad to play in countries like England where it’s very cold, we don’t complain. So I don’t think they (Australia) can complain about the conditions. They have got to learn to play well in every condition.”

Azhar also had a word of advice for Pakistan captain Babar Azam who recently received a lot of flak after England thrashed his team at home in a Test series.

“When you are playing the game at that level, you should always listen to someone,” Azhar said.

“There might be one small piece of advice which could be good for you and which can change your whole perspective of your game.

“I think he should be open to advice and also rather than giving him a flak, people should help him.”


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