Kerala's Mohammed Azharudden stamps his class

Mohammed Azharudden became the first T20 centurion for Kerala after he hammered a 37-ball ton to guide his team to a convincing win against Mumbai in a Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy contest.

Mohammed Azharudden's century was the second fastest in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.   -  Twitter@BCCIdomestic

At the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday, Mohammed Azharudden became the first T20 centurion for Kerala as he hammered a 37-ball ton to guide the team to a convincing win against Mumbai.

The seasoned campaigner - who has been in the circuit for the last six years - surpassed Rohan Prem’s previous top-score of 92 not out and ensured that Kerala remained undefeated in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy: Azharuddeen guides Kerala to big win over Mumbai  

While he toyed with the Mumbai bowlers en route 137 off 54 deliveries, the Kerala camp looked excited with Azharudden’s feat.

A wicketkeeper-batsman, Azharuddeen made it to Kerala’s first-class side in 2015 and has been quite a consistent performer since.

What’s in a name

A few years ago, during the team's training camp in Chennai, Tinu Yohannan - the current Kerala head coach - had told Sportstar an interesting story about the young Azharuddeen - which has become a folklore in Kerala's cricketing circuit.

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When he was born in 1994, his parents had initially thought of a different name, but it was his elder brother Kamarudden, who named him Azharudden - after his ‘idol’ Mohammad Azharuddin - who was then the India captain.

And for the obvious reasons, ever since his age-group cricket days, the youngster would be referred to as ‘Azhar in the making’.

Yesterday once more

In an empty Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday evening, it was quite a ‘throwback to the 1990s’ as Azharuddeen was joined by Sachin Baby - namesake of another India legend, Sachin Tendulkar.

While Baby - a former Kerala captain - remained unbeaten on 2, those few minutes both Azharuddeen and Baby spent at the crease turned into a much talked-about affair on social media. With just a couple of runs left, Azharuddeen sealed the deal with a six.

And ever since his age-group cricket days, the 26-year-old made his presence felt with some consistent performances, and earned himself the reputation of a prolific shot maker.

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After impressive stints at the U-19 and U-23 levels, Azharudden was drafted into the Kerala team, and even though there have been struggles in between, Azharuddeen has tried doing justice to his name and talent.

And a stunning show at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday, not only guided Kerala to yet another win, but also helped the youngster stamp his class.

Interestingly, his namesake Azharuddin, too, had a successful outing at the Wankhede Stadium, where he is the second highest run-scorer of India in the ODIS - 302 runs in eight matches - right after Sachin Tendulkar. In the six Tests that he played at the iconic venue, Azhar scored 126 runs.

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