The Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) is inviting all living Test players from Hyderabad to watch the second India-New Zealand Test starting Friday. Mohammed Azharuddin though could be conspicuous by his absence.
That's because, hosting a Test after 22 years, the HCA officials don't know the former India captain's whereabouts. "He's probably busy with the Bihar elections. The old phone number that we had isn't working and he may have taken a new one. We couldn't get in touch with him, although we wanted to,"
HCA president Arshad Ayub told HT on Wednesday.
Azharuddin, who played 99 Tests before being suspended for alleged involvement in match-fixing, is a Congress MP from Uttar Pradesh's
Moradabad. Although his former wife lives here with their two sons, Azharuddin now divides time between New Delhi and Hyderabad.
Another former India captain who will miss the occasion is Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi. Hailing from the princely state of Pataudi in Haryana, 'Tiger' played most of his Ranji Trophy matches for Hyderabad.
"He can't come because he has some prior commitments," said Ayub, the former off-spinner who played 13 Tests and 32 ODIs from 1987 to 1989.
Ayub said three former players - K Jayanthilal, Narasimha Rao and Govind Raj - have accepted the invitations. According to him, there are "about 14" who qualify to be on this list. Ayub himself is one alongwith HCA vice-presidents Shivlal Yadav and Venkatapathy Raju. Two more - VVS Laxman and Pragyan Ojha - are set to be in the India XI.
Ayub and Azharuddin both played in the last Test here, a 10-wicket win against New Zealand at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium in 1988. Following the match referee's report on organisational shortcomings in that game, the stadium lost Tests status although it continued to host ODIs till 2003 before the HCA built its own stadium.
Another person who has played in the last Test match here is Mark Greatbatch. The coach of the current New Zealand team made 90 in the first innings in that game.'