Mohammad Azharuddin (born 8 February 1963) is an Indian politician and former cricketer. He was an accomplished batsman and captained the Indian cricket team for much of the 1990s, until being banned for his involvement in a match-fixing scandal. The lifetime ban for his alleged match fixing was later found illegal by Andhra Pradesh High Court. A member of the Indian National Congress, Azharuddin won from the Moradabad constituency of Uttar Pradesh to the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Parliament of India. In his prime, he had a graceful, fluid batting style, comparable to that of his English contemporary, David Gower and Australian batsman Greg Chappell.
The wrist flick was his most characteristic shot and he fared best against spinners. The grace and fluidity of his wrist once prompted John Woodcock, a noted cricket writer, to say, “It’s no use asking an Englishman to bat like Mohammad Azharuddin. For, it would be like expecting a greyhound to win the London Derby!”On 8 November 2012, the Andhra Pradesh High Court lifted the life ban on Azharuddin, implicated in the match-fixing scandal of 2000. The High Court said the ban was “unsustainable”.Former Indian captain and International umpire Venkataraghavan stated “Azharuddin had the best wrists in the game, but Tendulkar isn’t too far behind” while praising Sachin Tendulkar. In Oct 2010, Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan called him one of the best players in cricket on par with Sachin Tendulkar
Azhar, as he is popularly known, grew up in Hyderabad and attended All Saints High School, Hyderabad in Hyderabad. Indian cricketers such as Venkatapathy Raju and Noel David are also alumni of the same school. While playing cricket, he graduated from Nizam College, Osmania University, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh with a degee of B Com (Bachelor of Commerce).
Family and personal life
Azharuddin, who turned 50 on 8 February 2013, was first married to Hyderabad based Naureen, who he divorced after 9 years of marriage to tie the knot with model-actor Sangeeta Bijlani in 1996. His marriage to Bijlani, however, lasted 14 years and the couple separated in 2010. He was briefly linked to badminton player Jwala Gutta afterwards, though the rumoured affair was strongly denied both by Gutta and Azhar. His first wife was Naureen, with whom he had two sons, Asad and Ayaz. His son Ayaz, aged 19 years, died in a road accident on 16 September 2011.
Azhar scored a final total of 22 centuries in Test cricket at an average of 45, and 7 in ODIs at an average of 37. He has the unique distinction of scoring a century in each of his first three Tests – a feat unmatched till date. An excellent fielder, he took 156 catches in ODI cricket which was a world record until Mahela Jayawardene surpassed him. He has held world records for maximum ODI runs and fastest ODI hundred which were subsequently broken by other players.
He also scored centuries in his first and last Tests. During India’s 1990 Test series in England, Azhar came in to bat when his team was facing the prospect of following on and scored an aggressive century in just 87 balls. Many regard this as his best innings ever. India was saved from the follow-on but lost the match and the series. His highest Test score is 199 in a Test match against Sri Lanka. Eden Gardens, Kolkata proved to be happy hunting ground for Azhar where he scored 5 centuries in 7 Tests at an average of 107.50. In 1991 he was named Wisden Cricketer of the Year and was, for many years, an inspirational figure in the Indian team due to his athletic fielding and leadership. Azhar eventually was stranded one short of 100 Tests milestone following unfortunate events involving match fixing, that led to a ban imposed for life by BCCI. The Andhra Pradesh high court on 8 November 2012 declared the ban as illegal after 12 years.
Azharuddin was captain of the Indian team for most of the 1990s. Statistically he is one of India’s most successful captains, winning 103 ODIs, which is still an Indian record. His 14 Test Match wins as captain, was a record until it was bettered by then Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly with 21 test match wins.
Match fixing scandal
Towards the end of his career Azharuddin was accused of match-fixing; South African captain Hansie Cronje, in his confession for match-fixing, had indicated that Azharuddin was the one to introduce him to the bookies. India’s premier investigating agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation, conducted an investigation and published a report.The BCCI claimed that it imposed the life ban on Azhar, after he had admitted to fixing three ODI matches, and this led the BCCI to ban him from the game for life in 2000. The BCCI lifted the ban on Azharuddin in 2006 and even honoured him along with other Indian Test captains in a ceremony in Mumbai during the 2006 ICC Champions Trophy. The ICC, however, claimed that it alone had the right to revoke the ban despite playing no role in handing out the original ban. In one of his interviews, Azhar claimed that he was being targeted because he was from a minority community.
High Court Judgment against ban
On 8 November 2012, the Andhra Pradesh High Court lifted the life ban on Azharuddin, implicated in the match-fixing scandal of 2000. The High Court said the ban was “unsustainable”.
Azhruddin formally joined the Indian National Congress party on 19 February 2009. He contested the Indian general election, 2009 from Moradabad in western Uttar Pradesh. He won the elections as a candidate of Indian National Congress party by defeating his nearest BJP rival Kunvar Sarvesh Kumar Singh with a margin of more than 50,000 votes. He has promised to construct a University and a Stadium as well in Moradabad. He has also promised to improve the city’s electricity problem.