Former India captain Mohammed Azharuddin expressed shock and surprise at Ravi Shastri omitting Sourav Ganguly from his list of best captains. Shastri had praised MS Dhoni, hailing him the ‘dada of all captains’, and kept him ahead of Kapil Dev, Ajit Wadekar and Tiger Pataudi, adding ‘there is no one else’. (No hurrah for MS Dhoni)
“It was such a stupid thing to say,” Azhar told HT from Hyderabad, referring to Shastri’s running feud with Sourav Ganguly. “Can’t he see statistics? It doesn’t matter to me what he thinks of people but when Shastri refers to great Indian captains, his personal bias shouldn’t be used to insult those who have contributed more to Indian cricket,” he said. (Ranji Trophy final Day 2 live)
For the record, MS Dhoni has been India’s most successful Test captain, winning 27 Tests during his tenure. Ganguly stands second with 21 while Azhar and Virat Kohli are tied third with 14 Test wins each. Shastri and Ganguly fell apart when the three-member Cricket Advisory Committee, including Ganguly, had picked Anil Kumble over Shastri as the India coach last year.
Azhar is in the news after announcing his intention to contest for the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) president’s post. While Azhar agreed the switch from being a former cricketer to an administrator won’t be easy, he feels the time and situation is just about right. “I am ready for any battle that will eventually save Hyderabad cricket,” said Azhar.
A former Member of Parliament, Azhar knows a thing or two about elections. With the HCA polls scheduled to be held on January 17, he has been garnering support from the cricket fraternity of the region.
“Why is Hyderabad lagging in terms of cricket performance but always in the forefront for all the wrong reasons? There have been allegations of misuse of funds while the cricket team suffers and players aren’t getting proper facilities. Most people I talk to are disgusted with the cricket affairs and I will give my best,” said Azhar.
The HCA is facing a series of allegations with a BCCI-commissioned Deloitte audit report finding financial irregularities amounting to around 100 crore. The HCA president and former India spinner Arshad Ayub was even suspended by the High Court and Azhar knows what he will be up against. “Why are they scared of facing elections? If they have done no wrong, why should they be worried? Let’s see what happens,” Azhar said.
Azhar also quashed rumours of his non-eligibility since he was banned for life in 2000 for match-fixing allegations. Even though the Andhra High Court ruled in his favour, terming the ban illegal, the BCCI is yet to officially clear the ban. Azhar gave a different explanation. “The BCCI had two weeks then to challenge the High Court’s verdict and they didn’t. The court ruled in my favour and I have been told that I am eligible to contest the elections. All rumors are being spread by the other faction,” he said.
Azhar has been camping in Hyderabad for a few days and has rallied support around his candidature. “Wait for a few days and you will know why am confident,” he said. News coming out of Hyderabad though is the elections might be postponed till after January 19 as the Supreme Court-appointed panel is to yet to get back to SC with an implementation plan for the Lodha Committee recommendations. “The Lodha recommendations have been accepted by many states and it will be accepted by HCA too. We have to see how best to implement and use those recommendations,” he said.