Rewind: Mohammad Azharuddin’s Magnificent First Three Test Matches
Looking back at Azharuddin’s magnificent first three test matches where he hit three consecutive centuries.
India had a fine start at the 1984-85 Test Series against England, when they defeated the visiting team by 8 wickets at the first test at Wankhade Stadium, Mumbai.
However, England hit back really hard, winning the second test at Firoz Shah Kotla, Delhi comprehensively by 8 wickets.
This series-levelling win caused a lot of turmoil in the Indian team and because of his performance, Kapil Dev was dropped from the third test at Eden Gardens, alongside Sandeep Patil.
Chetan Sharma was brought in place of Kapil, while Patil was replaced by a debutant from Hyderabad called Mohammad Azharuddin.
What happened next went down in history as one of the finest starts to a test career by any Indian ever. A 21-year-old Azharuddin hit three test centuries in his first three test matches.
1st Test: Kolkata
It wasn’t the finest of starts for India when Sunil Gavaskar won the toss and elected to bat against England in the third test match. When Azharuddin came out to bat for the first time, India was 127-4 with Sunil Gavaskar, Angshuman Gaekwad, Dilip Vengsarkar and Mohinder Amarnath all back into the pavilion.
Ravi Shastri and debutant Azharuddin took charge from there and added 241 runs for a fifth wicket partnership. And in this process, Azharuddin scored a century in his debut test match.
Ravi Shastri too added 111 runs as India posted a daunting first innings total of 437 runs. The match, however, ended in a tame draw, courtesy poor weather conditions.
2nd Test: Chennai
The fourth test match was played at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai. With the five match test series levelled at 1-1, it was a must win match for both the teams.
India once again won the toss and elected to bat, losing four wickets with just 155 on the board. Azhar continued his fine form into his second test match, but could add only 48 runs as he was bowled by Chris Cowdrey. India could manage only 272 runs in their first innings.
In reply, England crushed India’s bowling and posted 652 runs in their first innings. Trailing by 380 runs, the hosts needed a solid performance to stay alive in the match.
But it was yet again a sloppy start by the Indian batting end as they lost three wickets for just 22 runs on the board. But from there on Mohinder Amarnath and Azharuddin took charge and stabilised India’s innings.
The boy from Hyderabad proved his mettle once again under harsh conditions and scored a century. Amarnath too chipped in with a handy 95, but India could not really post a challenging total as they were all out for 412 runs.
With 32 required to win, England won the match quite comfortably with 9 wickets. But Azhar made his mark once again.
3rd Test: Kanpur
In the fifth and final test match of the series at Kanpur, India put a really strong batting performance and added 553 in their first innings. It was Azharuddin once again who hit a third consecutive century to lead India to a mammoth score.
England was bowled out for 417 in their first innings. The match, however, ended in a draw, despite the Indians declaring their second innings for just 97 runs. Yet Azhar shone once again scoring 54 runs in the second innings.
Mohammad Azharuddin scored 439 runs in the first three test matches of his career. This is definitely one of the best starts to a test career by any Indian.
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