In December 2000, Azhar was handed a life ban by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for his alleged involvement in match-fixing. Although the stylish Hyderabadi never played for India again, he decided to contest the ban and, in 2012, the Andhra Pradesh High Court revoked the life ban and termed it “illegal”.
Speaking about his match-fixing ban, the ex-India skipper said in an interview with cricketpakistan.com, "I don’t want to blame anyone for what happened. I really don’t know the reasons for banning me.
"But I had decided to fight it and I am grateful that after 12 years I got cleared. I felt very satisfied when after being elected president of Hyderabad association I went and attended the BCCI AGM meeting,” he added.
In a career spanning 16 years, Azhar featured in 99 Tests and 334 ODIs scoring 6,125 and 9,378 runs at an average of 45 and 36.92 respectively. He looked set to play his 100th Test when the ban was imposed and his career, which was nearing its end anyways, came to an unwanted conclusion.
“I am a firm believer in fate and whatever is in your destiny it happens. I look at this way that nowadays if a player is a class act he ends up playing more than 100 Tests. So I don’t think this record of 99 Test matches that I hold is going to be broken,” Azhar said.
“I played for around 16 to 17 years and I captained for around 10 years. What more can I ask for,” he further added.
Happy days are back for the man who began his Test career with three centuries. In September 2019, he was named president of the Hyderabad Cricket Association. A stand was also named after him at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium.
--By A Cricket Correspondent