So near, yet so far: Azharuddin: highest score 199, total number of tests 99
Mohammed Azharuddin, the man who was slapped with a lifetime ban by the BCCI after a matchfixing scandal broke twelve years ago, has  now  heaved a sigh of relief after the Andhra Pradesh High Court judgement. His honour in this gentlemanly game is, after all, intact.



The man has only one regret: he played 99 Tests, and considering his present age at 49, he is unlikely to play  his 100th test ever.  

On Thursday, when he said, it was fate which ordained that he play 99 tests, his sadness was evident.  By the time his name was cleared 12 years later, he had no vigour left to resume play.  




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.

He was given LBW for 199 in a Test match against Sri Lanka and it was his highest Test score.




Born 8 February 1963, in  Hyderabad, Azharuddin , 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. 


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.  




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 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.
 

The late Prabhash Joshi, the then editor of Hindi daily Jansatta was evocative in his praise when he headlined his piece: "Jat tak suraj chaand rahega, Azhar tera naam rahega". 

In his piece, Joshi admitted he had tears in his eyes when Azharuddin cracked 182 runs against England in 1983 at the Edens.




An excellent fielder, he took 156 catches in ODI cricket which was a world record until Mahela Jayawardene surpassed him. 


He had 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 Test.

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.











Elected to Lok Sabha on a Congress ticket from Moradabad, UP, Azharuddin married former Miss India turned actress Sangeeta Bijlani.


This is his second marriage, after he divorced his first wife 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. Naureen's marriage to Azharuddin lasted for 14 years.