Birthday special: Mohammad Azharuddin – Stylish batsman; controversial career

Mohammad Azharuddin was born on 8 February 1963. He will be turning 61 years today and is still in and around cricket. Azharuddin will go down as one of the most talented batsmen Indian cricket has produced. He had an illustrious career having played 99 Tests and 334 ODIs for India and captained a high percentage of those matches.

The beginning

Azharuddin broke out into the scene after making a lot of headlines in Indian domestic cricket, where he played for Hyderabad. He made his debut for India in a home series against England. From the very onset, people could see what an amazing talent he was. His wristwork was praised by many cricket experts and even compared to the likes of GR Vishwanath and Zaheer Abbas.

He smashed three centuries in his first three Test matches, which is a record until now. No other batsman has been able to achieve it. Having made giant strides as a batsman in international cricket, he was soon considered for captaincy. In 1990, he first led the Indian team and soon he was recognised as somebody who could take Indian cricket forward. Under his leadership, the Indian team had become the strongest in their own conditions. He successfully built a good side.

The fall

However, his career was cut short after the infamous match-fixing scandal which broke out in the year 2000. He was charged with match-fixing and a lifetime ban was imposed on him, restricting him to play for India ever again. It was not until 2012 that the ban was announced as illegal by Andhra Pradesh High Court. Unfortunately for the player, he couldn’t play anymore after 2000 and ended his career with 99 Tests.

In those matches, he had scored 6215 runs at an average of 45.03. He had scored 22 centuries along with 21 fifties. Apart from that, he also played 334 ODI matches for India, captaining in 174 of them. He scored 9378 runs at an average of 37. He had scored seven centuries along with 58 half-centuries in the format. At one point in time, he was the highest run-getter in ODIs, until Sachin Tendulkar surpassed his tally.

Apart from this, Azharuddin was a fantastic fielder as well. He was considered one of the safest catchers and was also an excellent slip fielder. Since his retirement from the game, he has been involved with sports. He also stepped in the field of politics and became a Member of Parliament. Recently, he was seen at the Abu Dhabi T10 League with the Northern Warriors side as a mentor.

As he turns 61, we want to wish him a happy birthday and hope he finds different ways in which he can contribute to the game. He has also been working with Hyderabad Cricket Association as the President and we hope he can bring all his skills from the field to the administration, something which he has done magnificently in the past few years.