Azhar: I just went out there and tried to enjoy my batting

Mohd. Azharuddin recounts his famous hundred at Lord’s in 1990.

Azhar is the only Indian batsman to score more than 2500 runs in English county, playing for Derbyshire in 1991 season.   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES

The wristy elegance of Mohd. Azharuddin was writ all over Lord’s in the 1990 Test match when he hit that blazing 121 off 111 balls with 22 fours in a lost cause.

A captain’s innings, played exactly 28 years ago, which held its own despite England captain Graham Gooch slamming a triple century earlier and then again a ton in the second innings!

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“It was a truly unforgettable innings. Should rank among the top three in my career. The conditions were different, there was lot of pressure. I just went out there and tried to enjoy my batting. Frankly, it was my day,” 55-year-old Azhar recalls in an exclusive chat with Sportstar on Thursday.

“I tell you before that tour my father wished me that I should score a century at Lord’s. For people always had that aura about the famous venue. So, the first thing that struck me on completing that century was I could fulfil my father’s dream” the former India captain revealed.

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Under criticism

For someone who had a sensational start to his international career, slamming three centuries in-a-row against England at home in 1985 series, Azhar also mentions that he came under severe criticism for putting England in to bat in that Test and more so after Gooch cracked a triple century after an early reprieve.

“Honestly, it was a very good batting wicket with even bounce. Unlike now which is really hot. I tell you in England even if it is 35 Degrees, unlike India, there it will be very demanding and energy-sapping,” he recalled.

“The fact that people still talk about my Lord’s century gives me that rare joy of being there at the top,” he says.

“Yes, I always enjoyed playing in England and in those days, if someone played well he was looked up. I don’t think it is the same case now,” he felt.

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County experience

Azhar is the only Indian batsman to score more than 2500 runs in English county, playing for Derbyshire in 1991 season.

“I tell you if you play well in county cricket, you are treated like a King for those days each team had a quota of world class foreign players. And, I really enjoyed that season,” he explained.

On Virat Kohli-led Indian team now in England, Azhar feels this side is a much better one, more fit and agile.

“It all depends on how well we bat on pitches which are expected to be dry because of the heat. The bowling attack is very good and even green-tops should not be a worry. We have a very good captain, huge opportunity to win the series."