Mohammad Azharuddin announced his arrival in style with a hundred on Test debut

Mohammad Azharuddin, the former Indian captain and one of the most elegant players to have ever graced the game, became the eighth Indian to score a hundred on his Test debut exactly 31 years ago on this day. The classy Hyderabadi, known for his wrist-work, scored 110 in the drawn match against England at Kolkata (then Calcutta.)

Interestingly, Azhar, as he is fondly known as in the cricket circles, wasn’t an obvious choice for selection into the team. The 21-year old had to fight for the spot with the likes of Kris Shrikant and Kapil Dev, who were out-of-favour with the selectors back then. Even the then captain Sunil Gavaskar wasn’t in favour of giving Azhar a chance.

But the selectors showed faith in the youngster and the rest, as clichéd as it may sound, is history. Azhar went on to score a hundred on debut and added 214 runs with another centurion Ravi Shastri, who batted on all five days of the match. Azhar also went on to score hundreds in his next two Tests — 105 at Chennai and 122 at Kanpur, this vindicating the selectors’ faith in him.

The elegant batsman also led India almost for a decade. His career was later marred by match-fixing allegations and subsequent life-ban, which was later lifted. Azhar, whose career ended tragically on 99 Tests, is currently a politician and has been a Member of Parliament.