The Pakistani wonder-boy Azhar Mahmood can narrate his experiences in an unusual manner. He was chosen as a bowling-allrounder for the Test series against South Africa in late 1997 but ended up scoring an unbeaten 128 runs and an unbeaten 50 on his Test debut. Not only that, he smashed another 2 Test hundreds on return tour in early 1998.
However, he couldn’t replicate good performances consistently both with the bat and ball. Hence, he was dropped from the Test team in 2001. He made sporadic appearances in ODI’s after 2001, was recalled for the 2007 World Cup. After that, he was never considered to play for the Pakistan team.Embed from Getty Images
British Citizenship and Selection in IPL
Mahmood was known to be a clean hitter of the ball. He was a right-handed batsman and a right-arm medium pacer who liked to “seam” the ball more than “swing” the ball, unlike his Pakistan counterparts who were good at swinging the ball.
Once Mahmood married British-Pakistani Ebba Qureshi in 2003, he started playing more county cricket in the UK. He represented Surrey from 2002 to 2007 before moving to Kent for the next 4 seasons till 2011. He again represented Surrey from 2013-16 before retiring from professional cricket.
In 18 T20’s played in 2011, Mahmood scored 517 runs at an average of 34.46 and at a strike rate of 142.42 with 1 hundred and 3 fifties. In addition to scoring runs, he took 15 wickets at an average of 33 and at an economy rate of 8.05. Along with Kent, he represented Auckland in New Zealand T20 competition in the same season.Embed from Getty Images
Impressing with the performances in T20’s in 2011, he was picked by Punjab Kings ahead of IPL 2012 at a price of $200,000. Mahmood was bought as a British player in the auctions because Pakistan based players were prohibited from playing in IPL and that was only possible because of his British Citizenship.
IPL Career with Punjab Kings
In his IPL debut season in 2012, Mahmood played 11 matches and scored 186 runs for Punjab Kings. He was mostly used as a finisher. He took 14 wickets at an economy rate of 7.71. In one of the matches against Chennai Super Kings, he took 3/25 in 4 overs to restrict them to 149 runs in a tight chase, thus winning the match for Punjab by 7 runs.
In 2013, he scored 196 runs in 11 matches and scored 2 fifties for Punjab Kings. He took 15 wickets at an economy rate of 7.52. He was the highest wicket-taker for Punjab Kings that season. In one of the matches against Kolkata Knight Riders, he again starred with 3/21 while defending 157 runs, thus helping Punjab Kings by a narrow victory of 4 runs.Embed from Getty Images
In the other match against Royal Challengers Bangalore on the flat pitch of M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, he took 2/24 off 4 overs as well as starred with the bat by scoring 61 runs to successfully chase a target of 175 set by Royal Challengers Bangalore by 7 wickets.
With Punjab Kings reduced to 6/2 against Mumbai Indians, Mahmood stitched a 148-run partnership with Shaun Marsh to propel the team to 183 runs. Mahmood scored 80 runs off 44 balls with 8 fours and 4 sixes. He then took 2/24 off 4 overs to bowl out Mumbai Indians for 133 runs.
Azhar Mahmood Celebrates a Wicket (Image: KXIP | Twitter)
Unavailability and downfall while representing KKR
He was unavailable in the 2014 season and then was picked by Kolkata Knights Riders ahead of IPL 2015. He played just one match for them, scored 6 runs and went for 41 runs in 3 overs bowled going wicketless against Rajasthan Royals.
Thereafter, he never played any IPL match.
It is very interesting how a cricketer with a Pakistani background became the best all-rounder to have ever played for Kings XI Punjab in a tournament Pakistani players are banned from!
Featured Image: Kings XI Punjab
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