Mahmood: Switching base but skill-set stays intact | india | Hindustan Times
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Mahmood: Switching base but skill-set stays intact

His adopted country might be perfectly suited to his style of seam-up bowling but former Pakistan all-rounder Azhar Mahmood, now also a British passport holder, has not forgotten how he had to toil on unresponsive sub-continent tracks, Kaushik Chatterji reports.

india Updated: Apr 16, 2012 01:31 IST
Kaushik Chatterji

His adopted country might be perfectly suited to his style of seam-up bowling but former Pakistan all-rounder Azhar Mahmood, now also a British passport holder, has not forgotten how he had to toil on unresponsive sub-continent tracks.

Mahmood, set to become the first cricketer from across the border to play in the IPL since 2008, still has a good grip on the conditions in this part of the world. In February, he scored nearly 300 runs and took nine wickets to help the Dhaka Gladiators win the inaugural Bangladesh Premier League. He was adjudged the most valuable overseas player.

Familiar turf
"I've been brought up in Pakistan, so all my life I've been playing on such wickets," said Mahmood. "Naturally, I know these conditions very well, so it's just about executing the plans." Wickets in the IPL will be more or less similar, which is why Mahmood feels bowlers need to keep coming up with variations like slower balls and cutters to make sure the batsmen don't have it any easier.

Of course, the all-rounder has also thrived in tough batting conditions - in his debut season, he helped Auckland Aces win New Zealand's domestic T20 competition, scoring 331 runs at an average of over 40 with a strike rate of around 150 and taking six wickets. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/4/16_04_pg15e.jpg

Cashing in
His productive show with the bat, said Mahmood, is simply a case of him making the most of the opportunities: "When you bat at No. 6 or 7 in a T20, you have to come out and immediately start swinging your bat. But now, I usually come in at No. 3 or 4, and sometimes even open the innings, and can take my time."

It also helps being an all-rounder, especially in a format that is heavily biased towards batsmen.

"T20's tougher as a bowler. So, when I'm bowling at the death, I put myself in the batsman's shoes, and try to bowl stuff like yorkers which I as a batsman wouldn't want to face. When I'm batting, I try to enter the bowler's mind and anticipate the delivery."

Visa woes
Busy trying to sort out visa issues with the help of his franchise, Mahmood downplayed any controversy. Why did he apply for a visa using his Pakistani passport and not his British one?

"As per the Indian government, if the older passport of a person with dual citizenship is still valid, then he cannot apply for a visa using the newer passport."

Why only two cities?
"The guy who made the visa only entered the name of my entry point into the country (New Delhi) and destination (Chandigarh).

"It's just procedural and not a political issue, and should get sorted out in a couple of days. Luckily for me, my first two matches are at home."

Does Chandigarh include Mohali?

"This has happened on earlier India tours too. If it says Chandigarh, there's no problem with playing in Mohali."