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Mohammed Azharuddeen thanks his Kerala teammates Robin Uthappa, Sreesanth and Sanju Samson for his form

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the Kerala cricket team baked all the storm in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021, winning all three of their first three games, and the 26-year-old Mohammed azharuddeen from Thalangara to Kasaragod, Kerala’s 14th district, is right in the middle of this storm.

After a quickfire 30 at the opening of the Kerala tournament against Pondicherry, Azharuddeen really turned fire against 41 times Ranji winners Bombay. Chasing 197 for the win, he achieved 129 points for the opening wicket alongside his veteran opener Robin uthappa. Azharuddeen was the star of the show. The right-hander finished his century on 37 balls before finishing 137 unbeaten on 54 balls as Kerala climbed the mountain of a target in under 16 passes.

Talk to Sportskeeda in an exclusive interview, Mohammed Azharuddeen suggested he was ‘completely in his zone’ during the rounds which have now made him a national sensation overnight.

“It feels so good. That day I was completely in my zone. I didn’t care what was going on or what the bowler was trying to do. I was just in my zone and playing. according to the merits of the ball. I just wanted to express myself, that’s all, “said Mohammed Azharuddeen.

Although the youngster enjoys the spotlight, he also recognized the pressure that comes with it. And while he loved the highs that came with a round of this nature, the early dismissal of the match against Delhi helped Mohammed Azharuddeen stand, happy to be reminded that he is only human, after all.

“It feels good but at the same time, the next day, I also felt pressure. After this round, I released the first ball (during the match against Delhi). After all, we are humans and that was a good reminder. There was a bit of pressure but it’s okay, since it’s the first time I’ve managed this (kind of attention), ”added the 26-year-old.

Mohammed Azharuddeen credits Kerala team leadership with renewed clarity in role

Each team is made up of a group of individuals who must play a certain role in helping the team achieve its goals. As for the current Kerala squad, Mohammed Azharuddeen believes the renewed clarity regarding each player’s roles has helped him and his teammates perform at the level they showed last week.

As far as he is concerned, Azharuddeen says his role is to give his team the start they need at the top of the order so they can continue, given how deep batting this team has. Generally football mad state.

“They just made it clear. What is my role. What I need to do. I don’t have to play sensibly and to win every game I don’t have to play long innings. I have to play my shots and give the team a good start. I’m an opener and I’m starting with Robin Uthappa. Robbie bhai is a very experienced player. We just have to give the team a good start. We have good depth at bat, they will take care of the rest. This is my role, and likewise everyone in the team has been given a role to play, ”Mohammed Azharuddeen told us.

To perform just like your team, however, the support of think tank members is essential, to say the least. And Mohammed Azharuddeen understands and appreciates the difference his captain and coach’s support has made.

“The team leadership told me, ‘You can speak up and express yourself, and we will fully support you. We’re usually afraid that if something goes wrong, you won’t get another chance. Now it’s so clear – “if you play for the team and play your part well, and you still don’t get any points or wickets, it’s okay, we’ll back you up,” Mohammed added. Azharuddeen.

Robin Uthappa, Sreesanth and Sanju Samson helped me a lot: Mohammed Azharuddeen

Mohammed Azharuddeen credited Robin Uthappa for helping him apply better.
Mohammed Azharuddeen credited Robin Uthappa for helping him apply better.

Every successful team includes the right mix of young vintages waiting to show the world what they’re made of and a group of seasoned seniors showing the way for new players. The current Kerala team is no different.

While Robin Uthappa’s best years may be behind him, his exploits on the national stage and his forays at the international level are well documented. Newly appointed captain of state Sanju Samson is now a household name, thanks in large part to its IPL performance for both Delhi capitals (née Daredevils) and the Royals of Rajasthan.

Their presence, coupled with that of the return S Sreesanth, has only helped Mohammed Azharuddeen progress in his game. While Uthappa’s achievements speak for themselves, his presence clearly means more to Kerala than the races he scores.

“They (Uthappa, Sreesanth and Samson) really helped me a lot. As for the stick, Robbie bhai (Uthappa) helped me. How to play, how to approach the game without changing my style of play. He helped me to apply myself positively while hitting, ”said Mohammed Azharuddeen.

S Sreesanth returned to competitive cricket after a 7-year hiatus. But if Mohammed Azharuddeen is to be believed, the Indian international speedster is still the positive character he was before the ban. Perhaps, a more mature version. The Kerala opener credits Sreesanth with motivating him and pushing him to be the best version of himself.

“Sreesanth continued to motivate me. He keeps talking to me and pushes me to improve myself. You won’t hear a negative word from man. I’m going to give you an example. When we were training just before the first game against Pondicherry, I was hitting the net and I felt like I was failing because of the wicket rebound. The rebound in Wankhede is a bit different compared to Kerala. Sree bhai came to see me later and said, “Ajju, you beat well. Don’t worry about anything, just keep it up. I was a little confused at first but he’s someone who gives me a lot of confidence. He lifts other players. He loves to do that. He just comes, talks to us and gives us confidence, ”revealed Mohammed Azharuddeen.

Sanju Samson’s batting elegance has found admirers from afar. Mohammed Azharuddeen is no different. The man of Thalangara watches every aspect of Samson’s life – whether it is the way he plays or the way he behaves. It is therefore not surprising that Azharuddeen now seems to flourish under the captaincy of Samson.

“Sanju is like my role model. I am everything. How he talks, how he interacts with players, how he interacts with others, how he prepares, his work ethic, his confidence, his aggressiveness, everything. I love watching him play, ”added Azharuddeen.

Playing for India is my only inspiration: Azharuddeen

Like any youngster growing up in this mad cricket nation, playing for India was Mohammed Azharuddeen’s ultimate dream. With a goal as high as he has set himself, Kerala’s latest batting sensation sees no reason to turn to another player for inspiration.

“There is no player I am looking for specifically for inspiration. The goal of playing for India is an inspiration in itself. Apart from that, I don’t think you need to look to another player to be inspired, ”concluded Mohammed Azharuddeen.

While the cricketer he is named after ended up playing internationally for 15 years, this longevity is perhaps a little too expected of 26-year-old Mohammed Azharuddeen. But with more performances like the one against Mumbai, the day might not be too far behind when he joins his captain of state in India’s blue.

Posted on Jan 16, 2021 6:33 PM IST



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