Former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin turns 56 today. The stylish Hyderabadi batsman who was born in 1963 was one of the best players to watch at his peak. Though his whirlwind career has been notable as much due to his feats on the field as off it.
To this day, Azhar remains the only cricketer to have hit three hundreds in his first three Tests. Being blessed with amazing wrists, he was able to put even the good balls into gaps. His aggressive strokeplay with total disregard of the team situation made him the fans' favourite. Not just his batting, but his great athleticism in the field made him an inspirational leader for the team.
After being handed over the reins of the team in 1991, Azhar made India one of the strongest sides at home while going on to win 14 of the 47 matches he led the side in.
Happy Birthday, Mohammed Azharuddin @azharflicks May you live a long and happy life. You'd once revealed in #AapKiAdalat how you used to do 100 metre sprint in 11.5/11.6 sec, adding, 'fitness is a lifelong habit'. @indiatvnews pic.twitter.com/T1hySHGPGP— Rajat Sharma (@RajatSharmaLive) February 8, 2019
But it didn't last long as he was embroiled in the match-fixing scandal that broke out in 2000 and was banned from playing cricket again - after he had hit a century in his last (99th) Test. Even though his ban was lifted by the courts in 2012, it did put an end to what could have been a truly great sporting career.
He scored 6215 runs at an average of 45.03 in his Test career to go along with 22 centuries. In 334 ODIs he made 9378 runs at 36.92 runs per innings with 7 tons. He also took 261 catches in all internationals.
After cricket, Azhar made an entry into politics and became a Member of Parliament after winning the elections on a Congress party ticket from Moradabad.