Former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin has turned 61 today. He was the lead protagonist of Indian cricket in the 90s and his wizardry with the bat is still cherished by cricket purists. Azhar was a crafty batter who conducted himself on the ground with a suave. He led the team for a long time which also included three World Cup campaigns in 1992, 1996, and 1999.
The prodigious Azharuddin made his debut in international cricket in 1984/85 when he was called up for a Test and ODI series against England. He played his maiden Test at the Eden Gardens in the third match of the series. A few days later he also represented India for the first time in ODI cricket against the same opposition. The start to Azhar’s international career was extraordinary as he made three consecutive centuries in his first three Test matches. His outstanding batting performances in Kolkata, Chennai, and Kanpur established the fact that the youngster was made for the big stage.
A young leader
The initial phase of Azhar’s international career was very rewarding as his consistency with the bat stood out. This evident potential made him a regular in the Indian team. When the old guard entered into the twilight phase of their career a young, swashbuckling but calm Azharuddin emerged as a leadership alternative for Indian cricket. He was appointed as the captain in 1989 which was a big responsibility on the tender shoulders. However, the responsibility suited him and he stayed in that role for a long time.
The former Indian skipper had a glorious international career but also had to go through a testing phase when allegations of match-fixing were labelled against him. This match-fixing controversy effectively put an end to his career however the lifetime ban was lifted in 2012 but by then it was all over. The match-winning controversy is certainly a blot on his fairly successful career but his contributions would definitely not be overshadowed by that episode.