HYDERABAD: He is known as destiny’s child. An illustrious career that witnessed panoramic shades is an ideal script for the perfect canvas. The life and times of stylish batsman from Hyderabad – Mohammad Azharuddin.
And producer Ekta Kapoor will be bringing his story alive on the big screen soon.
For a cricketer who courted controversy in the late 90’s in the alleged match-fixing, he has seen many ups and downs in his career. But there is another side of this 52-year-old wristy batsman, who grew up in the ubiquitous locality of Vittalwadi, into one of the most successful, yet controversial cricketers. Ask anyone associated with the game, they have nothing but kind words for this elegant stroke maker. He wasn’t only one of India’s most artistic batsmen, but also of the finest gentlemen. He is a is a player most cricket fanatics would still remember. “He hasn’t changed a bit for me. He gives me all the respect. During one of my visits to Delhi, when he was an MP, I had called him. Despite a hectic schedule and a lot of people around, he left them all and met me. He is a very religious person too,” recalls PR Man Singh, former secretary.
Talking about how he landed a berth in the Indian cricket team, Man Singh says, “He was selected as a leg spinner and played against visiting England Schools teams representing South Zone. Later he was spotted by coach Vasant Amladi as a batsman who thought he could be a better batsman. From then, it was batting for Azhar.”
For Man Singh, Azhar was wristy and stylish. “For me there are only two batsman who play the flick shot the best – late Eddie Aibara and Azhar. But Aibara could play it to square leg only. Azhar was so wristy that he could play the ball between mid-wicket and fine leg.’’
Even VVS Laxman’s style is compared to Azhar’s. “But we had different styles. He played with a light bat. He could play the leg side stroke, taking the ball from the off stump. Most of the Hyderabadis could play these strokes because of the matting wickets. I feel he is far more gifted than me,” feels Laxman. He also adds, “But everyone should know that although he had the talent, it was his hard work that made him a great cricketer. His work ethic is to be seen to be believed. Whenever we were together, he talked a lot about religion. I met him when I was a 16-year-old.”
Former interim BCCI president and Test off-spinner Shivlal Yadav remembers Azhar as a quiet and shy boy. “I was his roommate when he played his first Test. I remember his first century against England in 1984 after that he never looked back. That time his maternal grandfather passed away. We waited for him to complete his century before conveying the news,” recalls Shivlal.
He was introduced to cricket by his maternal uncle Abid Zain-ulabbudin, who himself was a good cricketer. SL VenkatapathyRaju, who played under Azhar in the Indian team, says as a skipper, he commanded respect. “He gave full freedom to the players. He would consult the seniors and was open to suggestions, never assertive. He would enquire about promising players and would gift them with gloves, pads and bats. He is very generous.”
The biopic: Azharuddin is set to reveal the story behind cricket’s biggest match-fixing controversy in his upcoming film, Azhar. He will disclose the truth behind the speculation which surrounded and caged him for years. With Emraan Hashmi filling the shoes of the celebrated cricketer, Prachi Desai and Nimrat Kaur have been signed on to play interesting, key roles as well.