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Azharuddin’s son hopes to make it big

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When a tall young man steps into Eden Gardens tomorrow, bat in hand, a wave of nostalgia may sweep those watching.

Mohammed Ashaduddin, called up for trials by the Kolkata Knight Riders, is the son of the now-disgraced Mohammed Azharuddin, whose bat lit up the Eden for a decade and a half since his Test century on debut at the ground in January 1985.

“I have heard a lot about Eden Gardens from my father. It was one of his favourite grounds,” Ashaduddin, 18, told reporters today.

A trainee of Hyderabad’s St John’s Academy, where V.V.S. Laxman too learnt his basics, the left-handed opener hopes the Eden charm will work for him too.

“This is a great opportunity for me. It can well be the turning point…. I am confident of getting a chance. I am very excited,” Ashaduddin told The Telegraph.

Azhar’s magic wrists conjured 860 delightful runs with five centuries — at an average of 107.50 — in seven Tests at the Eden, and 332 runs at 47.42 from nine ODIs.

But if Azhar was happiest caressing off-stump balls to the square leg fence, Ashad hopes to regale the Twenty20 crowd with bludgeoned sixes.

“I learnt cricket watching my father, so he is my first coach. But I have my style of play and I don’t want to play like my father. My father had God-gifted talent; I’ll never get there. I just like to be myself and perform well,” said the young man who at 6 feet 2 inches is taller than his father. His “hero” is hard-hitting Australian opener Matthew Hayden.

He added: “I would like to be described as an attacking batsman…. I like to pull and (Sourav) Ganguly’s stepped-out shot is my favourite.”

What did Azhar tell him before he boarded the plane to Calcutta? “This is my first visit to Calcutta; he told me to stay positive and play my natural game.”

Ashad, like his father, is a part-time off-spinner and is ideal for Twenty20, St John’s chief coach John Manoj said. The teen has hit four 50s in Hyderabad’s A-division league this season for the East Maredpally Cricket Club.

“He’s a safe fielder,” Manoj said. Azhar was one of the world’s best around point.

“My favourite position is the slip; I also like fielding at point. But please don’t compare me to my father, he was a world-class fielder,” Ashad, whose pet name is Abbas, said.

“There is pressure when you are born to a legendary father. But on the field I will be just a cricketer and try to play as the situation demands.”

When did he take up cricket? “I’m a late starter; I started two years ago,” the first-year BBA student said. “I don’t think starting late will be a disadvantage. Like every other cricketer I also dream to represent the country.”

Azhar told the Hyderabad media about his love for the Eden and said he had played his first big match at the ground, for the South Zone under-19 team in the Cooch Behar Trophy. “I am delighted that my son is also making his debut in the same city and am confident that he will not disappoint the cricket lovers of Calcutta.”

Forty-four young cricketers picked from across the country will appear in the January 5-7 trials, to be conducted by coach John Buchanan and Sourav.

Among them is left-handed batsman Shatrunjay Gaekwad, son of former India opener Anshuman Gaekwad, who has already played for Baroda. Anshuman too made his Test debut in Calcutta, scoring a gritty 36 against Clive Lloyd’s Andy Roberts-led attack in December 1974.

January 5, 2009 Posted by | cricket | , , , , , , | 1 Comment