The glory and the shame of Mohammad Azharuddin
A cricketing aesthete is born. Mohammad Azharuddin in full flow was a glorious sight, whipping straight balls through midwicket and carting anything overpitched through the off side. Watching Azhar in his prime was a joyous experience: there were the three hundreds in his first three Tests, the 121 that stole the thunder of Gooch's 333 at Lord's in 1990, and of course that glorious stand with Sachin Tendulkar in Cape Town in 1996-97. But as things stand, Azhar will now be remembered for his involvement in match-fixing rather than his brilliance with the willow.
A landmark day for Kapil Dev. At 10.34am, after 64 minutes of the third Test against Sri Lanka in Ahmedabad, he had Hashan Tillakaratne taken at short leg by Sanjay Manjrekar. It was Kapil's 432nd Test wicket, moving him past Richard Hadlee's world record. The feat was saluted with 432 balloons and a minute's standing ovation. It all overshadowed India's ninth home win in a row, in which the spinners Venkatapathy Raju and Rajesh Chauhan shared 17 wickets. Oh, and there was a pair for Marvan Atapattu, making it five ducks and a 1 (that was, apparently, a wrongly overlooked leg-bye) in his first six Test innings.
India's first Test victory, on their 25th attempt, was set up by left-arm spinner Vinoo Mankad, who cut a swathe through England with 8 for 55 in the fifth Test in Madras. There were four stumpings in the innings, and five in the match, for Khokhan Sen - all off Mankad - both records until Kiran More (with more than a little help from Narendra Hirwani) stumped West Indies in 1987-88. Mankad added four more wickets in the second innings, and with Pankaj Roy and Polly Umrigar making hundreds, an under-strength England side were well beaten by an innings, giving India a share of the series.
A monster partnership between Mushtaq Mohammad and Asif Iqbal set Pakistan up for their first Test win in New Zealand, by an innings and 166 runs in Dunedin. The pair slammed 350 for the fourth wicket in only 275 minutes, Pakistan's highest for any wicket at the time. Mushtaq made 201 and then chipped in with seven wickets to put the Kiwis to sleep.
Bangladesh's first wicketkeeper was born today. Khaled Mashud was tidy and un-flashy behind the stumps, batted at No. 7, and in many instances was the saving grace of Bangladesh's innings. He was made captain in late 2001 but was powerless to halt Bangladesh's woeful run, and quit after their humiliations at the 2003 World Cup. He scored one century in 44 Tests - an unbeaten 103 that helped Bangladesh draw the Test in St Lucia in 2004 after they had collapsed to 79 for 6 in the second innings. Mashud was forced to retire after being omitted from the 2007 World Cup squad, replaced behind the stumps by Mushfiqur Rahim.
Sydney's wettest week for 100 years finished the third Test between Australia and Pakistan as a contest. In fact, it was a miracle that there was any play at all, but the assiduous work of the groundstaff enabled 149 overs to be bowled. More than enough time for Mark Taylor to make an unbeaten 101, which took his average after 14 Tests to a mighty 69.95.
A giant fast bowler is born. At 6ft 7in, Cameron Cuffy looked a logical successor to the likes of Patrick Patterson when he came onto the scene in the early 1990s. But like most of his contemporaries, he struggled at Test level. He played for Surrey in the 1990s.
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