Former Indian cricket captain Mohammad Azharuddin Tuesday started a new innings, as the Congress candidate for the Lok Sabha constituency of Moradabad, as he promised people he was here for a "long innings".
"I have come here to stay and will stay here," Azharuddin told a gathering of his party workers in a jam-packed hall.
Azharuddin told the excited party workers that he believes in playing a long innings.
"I have been a captain of the cricket team and I believe in playing a long innings. Some people tell me that I have already won the elections, but for me victory is not decided till last ball of the match," he said in fluent Hindi.
Azharuddin reached Moradabad, 180 km from Delhi, in the morning in a black Ford Endeavour car. As soon as he got down from his car, a large crowd gathered there, with all struggling to have a glimpse of the star candidate.
Azharuddin was looking cool in the casual dress of blue jeans, blue T-Shirt and stylish goggles - sticking to his patent style rather than switching to the khadi kurta.
Many youngsters in the crowd copied his trademark style of putting collar flaps up.
At the meeting, Azharuddin listened patiently to all speakers of the district Congress committee even as he gave autographs and posed for snaps with youngsters who had come to meet the former stylish batsman.
"I thank for all the advice. Advices had helped me in the game of cricket and will help me here also. I will learn a lot from all of you," he said.
Azharuddin, 46, joined the Congress party Feb 19 amid much fanfare. He was initially being considered as a candidate for Secunderabad, adjacent to his home city of Hyderabad. Tonk in Rajasthan and Meerut in Uttar Pradesh too were considered for him before the party leadership settled on the brass city, which has a substantial Muslim population.
Moradabad, with a population of over 1.7 million, is famous for manufacturing brass, aluminium, iron and glass products and lies in the sugarcane belt of Uttar Pradesh.
Farmers of the region, as anywhere else in the country, face a lot of hardships to make their ends meet.
Azharuddin took note of their problems. "Don't think that I am a celebrity who is unaware of the problems of farmers. When I was young I used to work in the fields of my aunt. Even now I am ready to work for you and with you in your fields to solve your problems."
Asked about the hate speeches made by Varun Gandhi, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate from Pilibhit, Azharuddin said: "He should avoid from making such statements. Such statements send a wrong message to the youth."