Ranatunga: Azhar was a shrewd leader

The World Cup-winning Sri Lankan captain was felicitated ahead of the Kolkata Knight Riders-Sunrisers Hyderabad match.

Arjuna Ranatunga (third from left), who was felicitated by the Hyderabad Cricket Association on Sunday. At left is T. Shesh Narayan, Secretary, HCA and second from right is G. Vivekanand, President, HCA.

"Mohammad Azharuddin was the best captain to lead India," said World Cup-winning Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga ahead of the Kolkata Knight Riders-Sunrisers Hyderabad match at a felicitation function got up by the Hyderabad Cricket Association.

"He was a shrewd leader. I have really fond memories of this city. Even though I haven’t played at this lovely ground, I have played at the old ground (Lal Bahadur Stadium) where I got a quick-fire 90 against India in a one-day international. Those were lovely days,” reminisced the stocky left-hander, who had made a visit to Tirupati.

“As a politician, I don’t get that much time to visit grounds or watch a match. Hence it’s a great privilege for me to spend time at this lovely ground,’’ said Ranatunga, currently Sri Lanka’s Minister of Shipping and Transport. 
Walking down memory lane, he grew nostalgic about his team-mates. “I had a bunch of 13 committed cricketers. I used to give orders and they used to execute them well. When the players respect and love you, it’s easier to be a captain. The bunch of players with me played for the country as they considered it a great honour to be in the team jersey. They were not worried about the money because they loved to play for the country.”
“I had the privilege of playing with some of the finest cricketers which this country has produced such as Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Dilip Vengsarkar etc. The list will go on and on. These players were not only rivals on the field but very good friends off it. I have been friends with them for so many years even after leaving the game,’’ he said of the camaraderie he continued to share with them.

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