February 08, 1963, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh
Right hand Bat
Right arm Medium
Middle order Batter
Those who saw this supreme batting artist at his peak will never forget him - sinewy wrists transforming a slender piece of willow into a magician's wand. Azhar's leg-side play was reminiscent of Zaheer Abbas and Greg Chappell - a Michelangelo in the midst of housepainters. In later years, he expanded his off-side repertoire, and conjured some of the finest innings played in the modern era - his 121 at Lord's in 1990 was one for the gods. His technique was suspect against the short stuff, a deficiency he sought to overcome through instinctive strokeplay, sometimes with cavalier disregard for the team situation. As captain, Azhar enjoyed tremendous success on made-to-order home pitches, while right to the end of his career he was peerless in the field, whether prowling the covers or pouching catches at slip. He announced his arrival, against England in 1984-85, with three hundreds in his first three Tests, a feat that has never been match, while his last Test innings also bore him a hundred. But then allegations of match-fixing provided an emphatic full stop. That he finished his career with 99 Tests is perhaps appropriate for one who came within a whisker of batting immortality - only to throw it all away at close of play. He appealed against the life ban in the courts but the verdict is still awaited. He made his foray into politics by joining the Congress party in 2009.
Dileep Premachandran February 2009
Batting & Fielding