In November 1991, when South Africa returned to international cricket, Mohammad Azharuddin was part of the historic series. He was India’s captain in that historic three-match ODI series. Now after 26 years, as the Proteas host India in a three-match test series, Azharuddin gave time to CricketSoccer.com to analyse Virat Kohli led Indian team’s performance. He also spoke about his desire to come into the cricket administration.
Here are the excerpts:
CricketSoccer (CS): India have lost the first two test matches against South Africa and batting failure is considered to be the main reason behind this debacle. In Johannesburg also Indian batsmen struggled in the first innings. What is wrong with Indian batting?
Mohammad Azharuddin (MA): To do well outside the subcontinent, our batting has to be good. But unfortunately, our batsmen don’t possess the technique to play the moving ball. Whenever the ball has moved, we have suffered. In Dharamshala in a one day game against Sri Lanka, we got out cheaply. In the Eden Test match against Sri Lanka where the ball was moving, we got out cheaply. When playing moving ball, it needs a lot of patience and good technique. You have to fight it out. You can’t play loosely. You have to play the patient game when the ball is moving. It’s very important. The bowlers played their part. They bowled well. But at the end of the day, you have to put handsome runs on the scoreboard.
CS: Apart from Virat Kohli in the second and ongoing final test match and Hardik Pandya in the first test match, no Indian batsmen were seen counterattack the opposition bowlers. Could this ultra-defensive approach be a reason behind India’s poor performance?
MA: In Cape Town, when Hardik Pandya went to bat, we had nothing to lose, everything to gain. AB De Villiers in the second innings of the first test match played similar kind of innings where wickets were falling from the opposite end. Once you take such approach, batting becomes easier. In Cape Town, Hardik played very well. But this can never be the proper approach in test cricket. All the batsman cannot play like that. Virat, on the other hand, played his shots. But it was a more balanced display of batsmanship. He didn’t go gaga with every ball. Rather, Virat waited for his chance. It is the ideal approach.
CS: After nine consecutive test series victory, this is the first series defeat for captain Kohli.
MA: Yes. And there are two more difficult test series waiting for captain Kohli. The series against England an Australia. These two tours will be the acid test for captain Virat. If he and his team do well, it will be a remarkable achievement. But I only feel that if the ball is moving, the Indian team will find it difficult.
CS: There are two sides of batsman Virat Kohli in this ongoing series. One who is struggling to face the moving ball. The other who is scoring runs and leave a message for the opponent. Your thought.
MA: When the ball is moving, everybody has to struggle. But Virat has shown why he is considered to be one of the best in modern day cricket. The South African bowlers are very good. They know exactly where to pitch the ball. That’s why Virat’s century in Centurion is so significant.
CS: What could be the way out for the Indian batsman so that they can at least fight it hard and match the opposition?
MA: The coach and the batting coach have to sort it out. They should know what to do at this moment. They are very close to the team. They should tell the batsmen how to play. Nothing is impossible. I feel the rectification work should be started at the ground while the match is going on. It can not be done sitting in the dressing room or in a team meeting. We can not put every responsibility on the captain. Everybody should take responsibility. At the end of the day, if you score big runs, there is every possibility that you beat South Africa at their den.
CS: We have heard that you were barred to attend the special general meeting in Hyderabad Cricket Association a few days back…
MA: Yeah, it’s very unfortunate. I was the captain of the Indian team for a decade. Some people don’t bother about history. All they want is power. They don’t even care about cricket. How could a person work for the betterment of the game who had never played cricket? The current administration of the Hyderabad Cricket Association is full of filth. The whole body is illegal. According to Justice Lodha Committee recommendations, what these administrators are doing is totally illegal. So it is quite expected that they would not like a person like Md. Azharuddin to be a part of the cricket administration as I can never be their yes man.
CS: So you are seriously thinking to be a part of the cricket administration?
MA: Yes of course. I want transparency in running the game. People want that. Even the Supreme Court wants that. It is the right of the cricket lovers of the country to know how these people are running the association, how money is being spent and for what reason. You can not mislead people. But the current administrators in HCA are misleading people for their own narrow interest.
CS: In recent times, we have seen cricketers like Sourav Ganguly, Arjun Ranatunga, Anil Kumble and much more who have come into cricket administration after retirement. How positive is it for the game?
MA: It’s very positive. I think the cricket administration should be run only by the cricketers. How the people who have never played the game could work for the betterment of the game? My plan is to be an active part of the system and bring the necessary changes. There should not be anything taken for granted.