Cricket

How Azharuddin opened up a new chapter for Tendulkar

Smashing start: Sachin Tendulkar’s 82 off 49 balls — after he volunteered to open — made a mockery of New Zealand’s total of 142 at Eden Park, Auckland, on March 27, 1994.

Smashing start: Sachin Tendulkar’s 82 off 49 balls — after he volunteered to open — made a mockery of New Zealand’s total of 142 at Eden Park, Auckland, on March 27, 1994.  

Former India skipper recalls the tour which saw the ‘Little Master’ don a new role

Mohammad Azharuddin and Sachin Tendulkar shared a special bond when it came to scripting some of the most memorable moments in Indian cricket history.

On March 27, 1994, at Auckland in New Zealand, skipper Azhar, in consultation with manager Ajit Wadekar, promoted Tendulkar to open the innings for the first time. And the rest is history.

The gifted cricketer responded with a stunning onslaught on the Kiwi bowling, scoring a 49-ball 82 (15x4, 2x6).

How exactly did that materialise? “I had been noticing that nothing big was happening with Sachin even though he was batting well at No. 5 and 6. We (Wadekar sir and I) talked about this and decided to let Sachin open after regular opener Sidhu (Navjot Singh) was unwell,” recalled Azhar in an exclusive chat with The Hindu on Friday.

Sachin’s desire

“And, importantly, Sachin also wanted to open and we are glad that he went on to become one of the greatest batsmen of all-time,” he added.

“I won’t say I was surprised by his response, I knew Sachin had the talent. He just needed that opportunity to showcase his abundance of talent,” the 57-year-old said.

Mohammad Azharuddin.

Mohammad Azharuddin.  

But, what was it about Sachin’s batting that made you take the call? “He is an attacking batsman and with the field restrictions on, we thought once he gets going half the job is done for the team,” said the former India skipper.

Even Sachin acknowledged it in his autobiography Playing It My Way. “I went up to Azhar and our manager Ajit Wadekar, a former India captain and a leading batsman of his time, and pleaded with them to give me an opportunity at the top of the order,” he wrote.

“I can’t take pride for his achievements. In fact, nobody can. He had the talent to go places,” Azhar said.

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 3:40:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/how-azharuddin-opened-up-a-new-chapter-for-tendulkar/article31186561.ece

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