Mohammad Azharuddin: 12 facts you should know about the former India captain

Mohammad Azharuddin, born on February 8, 1963, was one of the greatest batsmen to have played for India. He represented India in 99 Tests and 334 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) before the match-fixing scandal abruptly ended his career. Azharuddin remains one of the most attractive batsmen the world has seen given his penchant of playing wristy strokes.

Nishad Pai Vaidya picks 11 facts you should know about him.

1. Three tons in first three Tests: The clich of someone announcing oneself with a bang is oft overused, but it fits perfectly for Azharuddin. He remains the only batsman to hit a century in each of the first three Tests of his career. In 1984-85, he started off with 110 against England at Kolkata, followed that up with 105 at Chennai and 122 at Kanpur.

2. Fastest ODI hundred: When Azharuddin smashed a century off 62 balls in a One-Day International (ODI) against New Zealand in 1988, he became the fastest centurion in the format. His 108 not out off 65 balls took India to victory in a run-chase of 279.

3. Love-affair with Eden Gardens: Azharuddin has a fantastic record at the Eden Gardens starting from his 110 on Test debut in 1984-85. In all, he played seven Tests at the venue, scoring 860 runs at an average of 107.50, with five tons and two fifties. He failed to get a fifty-plus score in only one Test.

4. Leading India in three World Cups: Azharuddin is the only Indian captain to have led the side in three World Cups. He captained India in 1992, 1996 and 1999. Kapil Dev and Srinivas Venkataraghavan led India in two editions. MS Dhoni is now set to captain India in his second.

5. Most successful Indian captain until Sourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni: Azharuddin led India in 47 Tests and won 14 of them, which was a record for India until Sourav Ganguly went on to win 21 off his 49. In ODIs, Azharuddin was the most successful Indian captain with 90 victories in 174 matches. MS Dhoni has since overtaken him.

6. Most prolific fielder in ODIs: Azharuddin was the most prolific fielder in ODIs with 156 catches in 334 matches. He held the record for quite a while until Mahela Jayawardene and Ricky Ponting overtook him.

7. Century in his first Test and last Test: Azharuddin is one of the few batsmen to have started and ended their careers with a century in Test cricket. As stated earlier, Azharuddin started his career with 110 against England at Kolkata. In his 99th and final Test against South Africa in Bangalore in 2000, he scored his 22nd ton. He hit 102 in the second innings.

8. Celebrity connection: Azharuddin was married to Naureen, but then tied the knot with famous Bollywood actress Sangeeta Bijlani. The second marriage also ended in the rocks.

9. Sons playing cricket: Azharuddin s elder son, Mohammad Asaduddin has played age group cricket for Hyderabad. He is currently a part of the Uttar Pradesh setup. His younger son, Mohammad Ayazuddin was a promising cricketer but sadly passed away in a tragic road accident in 2011.

10. Member of Parliament: Azharuddin took a foray into politics leading up to the 2009 General Elections. He joined the Congress Party and was elected from Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh. However, in 2014, he did not manage to win a seat in the Lok Sabha.

11. Match-fixing allegations: Azharuddin was banned for life in 2000 for his alleged role in match-fixing. However, in 2006, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) revoked the ban. In 2012, the Andhra Pradesh High Court further vindicated Azharuddin by saying that the ban imposed on him was untenable. Further in the year 2015, it came into news that there is a movie going to be made on his life which will focus on his life and also match-fixing allegations.

12. Biopic: Azharuddin’s biopic ‘Azhar’ released in May 2016. His role was played by Emran Hashmi, while the roles of his wives Naureen and Sangeeta Bijlani were played by Prachi Desai and Nargis Fakhri respectively.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)