Hyderabad: Mohammed Azharuddin posted a tweet wherein he emotionally mentioned about his paternal uncle Abid Zainulabideen. In the tweet, he asked, “Do you know how my cricket journey began? My Late Uncle, Mir Zainulabideen, made me hold the cricket bat for the first time.’’
Expressing his gratitude, the former Indian skipper even wrote it was his uncle who made him hold the cricket bat for the first time and he owes him for introducing him to the game of cricket. “My Late Uncle, Mir Zainulabideen, made me hold the cricket bat for the first time. I owe it to him for introducing me to this passion of mine which shaped me and my entire life.’’
From the narrow lanes of Vithalwadi in Hyderabad, 57-year-old Azharuddin rose to be India’s stylish and flamboyant batsman of the country and world. However, his initial baby steps to cricket were made under the wings of his uncle.
Who is Zainulabideen? He was the captain of the State Bank of India, Hyderabad cricket team. According to V Ramnarayan, the former Hyderabad off spinner, Abid was diminutive and a great fan and friend of Hyderabad’s own celebrated ghazal exponent Vithal Rao. Ramnarayan was the officer and Zainulabidden was his assistant. “Abid and I sat side by side in a corner of the Hyderabad Main Branch next to a large window that opened to our practice ground. At 3.30 pm most days, we both closed shop and went to the nets where our roles were so dramatically reversed. We were both comfortable in this curious identity switch which never interfered with our work, cricket or friendship, all based on mutual respect and tremendous affection, laced by a shared sense of humour and pet aversions,’’ wrote Ramnarayan in his blog.
Ramnarayan continued: Abid was short, wiry, smart, quite good looking, in fact, long-haired like most of us in the seventies, balding. Clean-shaven in the morning, he tended towards a 5 o’clock shadow by 3 pm, and “Forgot to shave this morning, Abid?” was the usual greeting from his friends at the nets.’’
The former wily off-spinner said Abid was a very good captain, quietly authoritative, calm and unperturbed when things did not go our way. “He had been a champion of my cause when I was still an unproven quantity, and this was before he had joined me in the Small Industries Business Division. In typically undemonstrative style, he never revealed to me that he had played that particular role in my career.
Ramnarayan said Abid as captain of a star-studded side commanded respect though he was not one of the stars, but always pulling his weight as a batsman, fielder and strategist. “He rarely failed with the bat when the team was in trouble, but was never interested in personal landmarks. He scored many fighting 40s and 50s, but not many hundreds in the years we played together. He was probably the only truly selfless cricketer I knew.’’
In fact, Ramnarayan under Abid’s captaincy the off spinner forged his partnership with late Mumtaz Hussain, the left arm spin wizard. “He (Abid) could not stand dishonesty and hypocrisy, and he gave his distaste expression in fluent English curse words and chaste Urdu in a deep gurgling voice. Throughout the time I played under his captaincy, I enjoyed his trust and support, and I like to think I did not let him down,’’ he said.
In the end comes a note on Azharuddin, who is now the president of Hyderabad Cricket Association. “During my last season for SBI, Abid’s tall, gangling teenage nephew would join us at the nets, entering through the bank’s rear gate from his Vithalwadi home, and bowl fairly impressive leg spin. He was to join the bank years later, play as a batsman, and eventually lead the side. His name was Mohammed Azharuddin. On the occasions, I met Azhar the Test cricketer, he always brought news of Uncle Abid,” Ramnarayan signed off.
You all have shown me immense love & support thru my career, but do you know how my cricket journey began? My Late Uncle, Mir Zainulabideen, made me hold the cricket bat for the 1st time. I owe it to him fr introducing me to this passion of mine which shaped me and my entire life pic.twitter.com/hR6iEgtBtD
— Mohammed Azharuddin (@azharflicks) May 21, 2020
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