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Tragic end of Azhar’s innings
By AN Shibli

The cricketing life of Muhammad Azharuddin, one of the most successful cricketers in the world, came to an abrupt end, as the disciplinary committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) imposed a life ban on him. According to the statement of the disciplinary committee’s decision ‘Muhammad Azharuddin is debarred from playing any cricket matches concluded or authorized by the ICC/BCCI or any of its affiliated associations, for life commencing form Dec 5, 2000.’

He will also not be eligible for benefit matches allotted/conducted by BCCI or affiliated members and BCCI’s contribution to his benevolent fund accrued as of today with effect from December 5, 2000.

Although the disciplinary committee also punished three other cricketers but there were open discrepancies in their decisions. It looks that this man was specially targeted. Ajay Jadeja who was also found guilty of match fixing and malpractice was awarded ban only for five years. There is no gainsaying the fact that the guilty should be punished but the law should apply equally without any discrimination. As far as Azhar’s contribution to Indian cricket is concerned he has contributed more than any cricketer. He holds a number of records to his name in test as well as in limited over cricket.

Born on 8 February 1963 in Hyderabad in a religious family, Muhammad Azharuddin, popularly known as ‘wonder boy’ began his career against England at Calcutta during third test in 1984-85 with a fine inning of 110. In two other tests of the series played in Madras and Kanpur he scored 105 and 122 respectively. With these three innings he became the only cricketer in the 125 years of test cricket who scored three consecutive hundred on debut. It is still a world record.

Azhar played his first one-day international on Jan 20, 1985 against England at Bangalore and made impressive 47 (not out) runs. In total he played 334 one-day international matches, a world record in itself and scored 9378 runs with the help of 7 centuries and 58 half centuries. His top score in one-day is 153 not out. He was not out on 54 occasions, which is a world record. During his one-day career he took 156 catches, another world record. He also holds the world record of maximum half centuries (58) by a batsman in limited over cricket. As a bowler he bowled 92 overs conceded 479 runs and took 12 wickets with a best of 3-19. Always regarded as a fine batsman he was once given man of the match award for his bowling (3-19) against Australia in New Delhi during 1987 world cup.

Azhar was the most successful captain of Indian Cricket. Under his captaincy India won the highest number of matches in test as well as in One-day International matches (ODI). He captained India in 174 one-day international winning 90 and losing 75 remaining were abandoned or ended in a tie.

After making a successful entry in international cricket, Azharuddin played 99 tests for India and scored 6215 runs. His highest score was 199, which he scored in 1987 against Sri Lanka. As a superb fielder, he took 105 catches.

Azhar, the classical batsman, also played for Derbyshire in England in 1990. For his best performance during season, he was named ‘Cricketer of the Year’ in 1990 by Wisdom magazine regarded as the ‘Bible of cricket’. Azhar became India’s captain on March 01, 1990 against New Zealand at Dunedin. This was his 99th match in one-day cricket. In test cricket he made his debut as captain on Feb 2, 1990 against New Zealand. This was his 35th test as a player. In total he captained India more than any cricketer in test as well as in one-day cricket. As a captain he also won the maximum number of matches. Under his captaincy India won many major tournaments. In test cricket India did not lose any test series at home for 13 years from 1986/87 season, for it Azhar got most of the credit.

For his contribution to cricket the Indian Government awarded him Padamsashree and prestigious Arjuna Award in 1998.
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