‘I was struggling badly’: Mohammad Azharuddin reveals Zaheer Abbas helped him play more freely and how he repaid the favour
He revealed in an interview that it was former Pakistan batting great Zaheer Abbas who gave him a valuable piece of advice that transformed his career.Updated: Jul 30, 2020 15:00 IST
Mohammad Azharuddin is one of the most influential captains in Indian cricket history. In the mid-90s, Azharuddin transformed the Indian side and made it a competitive outfit that gave a tough fight to the opposing teams. Azharuddin also promoted Sachin Tendulkar to the top of the order, which proved to be a masterstroke in the long run. However, during the early part of his career in 1989 Azharuddin was struggling for form.
He revealed in an interview that it was former Pakistan batting great Zaheer Abbas who gave him a valuable piece of advice that transformed his career.
“I was not sure about being selected for the Pakistan tour in 1989 as I was struggling badly for form. I remember in Karachi, Zaheer bhai came to the ground to watch us practice. He asked me why I was getting out early. I told him my problems and he suggested I change my grip a bit,” Azharuddin told cricketpakistan as quoted by PTI.
“Since I had nothing to lose and he had come himself to the ground and gave me this advice I said why not give it a try.
“The moment I changed my grip I felt more comfortable and confident and started playing freely. Eventually, it also helped me become a more aggressive batsman.”
Former Pakistan batsman Younis Khan was going through the same phase in 2016. He was struggling to hit the ball cleanly in England and Azharrudin felt bad seeing his state. He called Younis and advised him to stay in the crease and play close to the body.
“He looked ugly in his batting and I felt bad that such a good batsman should play so ungainly. I knew him so I called him up and advised him to stay in the crease and try to play close to the body from inside the crease.
“I am just happy he took my advice and went on to score a double century in the final Test at the Oval.”
Azharuddin was handed a life ban in December 2000 by the BCCI for his involvement in match-fixing. However, Azharuddin’s ban was revoked by the Andhra Pradesh High Court in 2012 after a long drawn out legal battle.