Kerala domestic cricket team has been on a roll in the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021. The team have started the tournament with two victories and are in the second position in Group E. While all eyes are on S Sreesanth making his return to domestic cricket after a seven-year ban, it’s Kerala’s opening batsman Mohammed Azharuddeen who is grabbing plenty of attention after their game against Mumbai on Wednesday.
Mumbai set Kerala a target of 197 runs in 20 overs after the latter won the toss and elected to field first. Azharuddeen opened the innings with veteran Robin Uthappa. During his unbeaten knock of 137 runs, the swashbuckling opener scored his century in 37 balls, making him the second-fastest centurion in the tournament’s history. Azharuddeen also became the first player from Kerala to score a century in a T20 match. The 26-year-old has every shot in the book and isn’t afraid of taking on the opposition. Generally, a score of over 190 runs in the T20 format is difficult for teams chasing, however, Azharuddeen showed great temperament and aggression during his blistering innings against Mumbai.
With his knock, Kerala chased down the target in 15.5 overs and, in the process, Kerala registered their first-ever victory over Mumbai in any format of the game. Mohammed Azharuddeen was born in Kasargod, Kerala in 1994. On his brother Kamaruddin’s insistence, his parents named him Azharuddeen after the former Indian Captain Mohammed Azharuddin.
Azharuddeen was only 21-years-old when he made his first-class debut for Kerala on November 15, 2015. In the next few months, he would make his List A and domestic T20 debut for Kerala. The now 26-year-old is also a wicket-keeper batsman but the team’s current captain Sanju Samson is donning the gloves now.
In 2018, the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) suspended five players for three Vijay Hazare games after they were found guilty of showing dissent against then state captain Sachin Baby. Azharuddeen was among the five suspended. However, the youngster has moved forward and is giving Kerala good starts at the top of the order.
If Azharuddeen continues to keep up his performance, many IPL teams will be interested in purchasing the youngster at the auction due to take place next month. After power-hitting massacre against Mumbai, he is earning high praises from cricketing legends, politicians, celebrities and fans of the game.
Former Indian opening batsman Virender Sehwag enjoyed watching the Kerala batsman’s knock and gave him high praises.
Former Mumbai and Indian batsman Vinod Kambli also had high praises for Azharuddeen and asked IPL teams to watch out for 26-year-old opening batsman.
Azharuddeen's teammate Sreesanth also praised the youngster's knock.
Cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle also joined several others in praising the youngster.