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Tuesday, December 01, 2020

26 years ago: How Azharuddin’s decision played an important role in Sachin Tendulkar’s career

Mohammad Azharuddin recalled the tour which saw the ‘Little Master’ don a new role.

By: Sports Desk | Updated: March 30, 2020 3:59:33 pm
Sachin Tendulkar opened the innings for the first time against New Zealand in 1994. (Screengrab)

Sachin Tendulkar, one of the most prolific international batsmen in the history of cricket, began his career in the middle-order where he did not score a century in his first five years of ODI. But he excelled at his game once he began playing at the top of the order and it is here that former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin played an important role.

On March 27, 1994, at Auckland in New Zealand, it was Azhar who after consulting with team manager Ajit Wadekar asked Tendulkar to open the innings against New Zealand. And the rest, as they say, is history.

“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,” Azhar recalled in a conversation with The Hindu.

“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.

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

After Tendulkar scored his first ODI ton, there was no looking back for the master blaster. In the next 385 ODIs Tendulkar would go on to open and score 49 hundreds, and scored more than 16,000 runs.

Tendulkar finally retired from cricket after scoring 100 international centuries.

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