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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

Mohammad Azharuddin elected President of Hyderabad Cricket Association

Mohammad Azharuddin polled 173 votes while his opponent Prakash Chand Jain got 73 votes. His entire panel won their respective contests.

cricket Updated: Sep 28, 2019 08:18 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal & Rajesh Pansare
Sanjjeev K Samyal & Rajesh Pansare
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Former cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin addresses a press conference.
Former cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin addresses a press conference.(AP)
         

Mohammad Azharuddin is back in the cricketing fold, 19 years after he was banned for life by the BCCI for his alleged role in the match-fixing scandal that rocked the sport.

On Friday, the former India captain was elected as the president of the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) after a comprehensive victory. He got 173 votes against his opponent Prakash Chand Jain’s 73 votes.

Azharuddin, who always insisted he was innocent, got a reprieve in 2012 when a division bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court called the BCCI’s life ban illegal. He wanted to contest the HCA election in 2017 as well but his nomination was rejected on technical grounds.

Azharuddin played 99 Tests and 334 ODIs for India and under his stewardship India never lost a series on home soil.

“As a cricketer, who has played at the highest level of the game, I can represent the association in a better way. I would like to ensure that Hyderabad cricket is benefited in a big way. It is much easier than being captain of the Indian team,” said Azharuddin addressing the media after his victory.

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The biggest challenge in Azharuddin’s life has been to shrug off his tainted past. After keeping out of the public eye for long, Azharuddin slowly returned to the mainstream. He joined the Indian National Congress in February 2009 and the same year he was elected as Member of Parliament from Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh. However, the HCA election tested his nerves.

“I was confident of winning the election but at the same time in an event like this you will always have tense moments. You never know, anything can happen. I fought two general elections but this was different. I’m happy that the club secretaries and cricketers rallied around me and we won the full panel. It is a huge victory,” Azharuddin said.

“We have to work in tandem and go forward for the development of the game.”

Prof Ratnakar Shetty, who was part of the three-member Committee of Administrators, appointed by the High Court of Telangana, in charge of the HCA administration for the last year and a half, said: ““I am happy that the election went off well under the former chief election commissioner of India, VS Sampath. Azharuddin is a cricketer after all, and it’s good he has won.”

However, there are people who have doubts about his return to the game in the role of an administrator.

Former CBI special director Ravi Sawani, who investigated the fixing racket in 2000 on the basis of which the BCCI banned Azharuddin, said: “It is not a great development. He was given the benefit of doubt for technical reasons by the Court, not for the lack of evidence. I had conducted the enquiry and submitted the report to the BCCI based on which he was banned.”

Sawani had set up the BCCI’s anti-corruption unit in 2012 after a similar stint with the sport’s world governing body International Cricket Council, where he served as the general manager of the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU).won.”

Former India all-rounder Madan Lal, who was India coach when Azharuddin was in the team, said he was happy for him.

“He belongs to that place (Hyderabad). Now that a cricketer has become a president (of the HCA) it will help develop the sport over there. He is a very good (motivator) and has the knowledge of the game and now he has got the administrative powers. I feel that cricketers are much better administrators than anybody else,” said Madan Lal.

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Anshuman Gaekwad, who was the India coach during the controversial period when match fixing scandal rocked Indian cricket, said: “We people have very short memory—either you win or lose. Both ways we remember it for some time and then forget. In case of Azhar, it’s all done with. Whatever ban he had, he served that and he has cleared it. I feel that every person makes a mistake, depending on how grave it is and as long as the person is ready to come out of it and do some good for the purpose…why not (give him an opportunity).

“I have seen Azhar from close quarters as an individual when it came to it his cricket and he was a disciplinarian. He was disciplined in his eating habits, his game, prayers, clothing…He was very particular and very immaculate. With this thing in mind he will inculcate that (in Hyderabad). Now that he has come in, he should do good for Hyderabad cricket. We have been hearing lots of stories of Hyderabad cricket. Hope he streamlines and clean the system and improve the game over there.”

But he has critics in the cricket fraternity as well. Last November, Gautam Gambhir had expressed his displeasure at Cricket Association of Bengal’s decision to invite Azharuddin to ring the bell at Eden Gardens before the start of the first T20 between India and West Indies.

“India may have won today at Eden but I am sorry @bcci, CoA &CAB lost,” Gambhir had tweeted. “Looks like the No Tolerance Policy against Corrupt takes a leave on Sundays! I know he was allowed to contest HCA polls but then this is shocking….The bell is ringing, hope the powers that be are listening.”

He was also among the dozen India captains who were felicitated before the start of India’s 500th Test at Green Park, Kanpur, in 2016. In the lead up to that Test match, it was reported that Azharuddin won’t be invited but he contradicted. “I have been invited by the BCCI to every function. Sometimes I may not be able to make it because of prior commitments, but I have always tried to respect the invitations and be present,” Azharuddin was quoted as saying by Wisden before the Test.

In the same interview he had stated that managing to lift the ban in 2012 was “like playing my 100th Test”. “I see winning the case as my 100th Test appearance,” he had said.

First Published: Sep 27, 2019 19:49 IST

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