Jan 5, 2009

Sport - Cricket;Azhar's son hopes to make it big at dad's happy hunting ground

His father Mohammad Azharuddin began his career at the Eden Gardens. Now 18-year-old Mohammad Ashaduddin, called for the Kolkata Knight Riders selection trials, hopes the venue will do the magic for him as well in his quest to make it big in cricket.

A product of St John's Academy — a club where VVS Laxman learned his basics — Ashaduddin is yet to make it big anywhere, but he is hoping that the KKR call-up will help establish him in the big league.

The left-handed opener said: "I have heard a lot about Eden Gardens from my father... It was one of his favourite grounds, having made his debut [there against England in 1984-85].

"It's a great opportunity for me to prove myself if I get a chance. It can well be the turning point if I can cash in on the opportunity. I am very excited about the call-up."

One of the most successful India captains, Azhar boasts of an average of 107.5 at the Eden Gardens, having scored 860 runs from seven Tests. In ODIs, the former middle-order batsman scored 332 runs at an average of 47.42 from nine matches at the venue.

Unlike his father, Ashaduddin, popularly known as Abbas, loves to play attacking shots, which he says come in handy in the Twenty20 format. "I have learnt cricket watching my father... so he is my first coach. But I have my style of play and I don't want to play like my father. My father had God's gifted talent. I will never get there. I just like to be myself and perform well being a cricketer.

"I think my style of play will suit the Twenty20 format. I have an attacking approach... I like to pull and Ganguly's stepped-out shot was my favourite," Ashaduddin, who plays for East Marredpally CC in the Hyderabad A division league (two-day format) and has four fifties in six innings this year, said.

Ashaduddin, who is also a part-time off-spinner, said there are a lot of expecations that a star-son has to face but was confident of shrugging off the pressure. "There is pressure when you are born to a legendary father. But on the field I will be just a cricketer and try to play as the situation demands."

Asked to compare his father and Sourav Ganguly — two of India's most successful captains — the youngster laughed: "It's tough to answer... Ganguly was also a great leader and it was a dream come true for me meeting the former India captain."

He said hard-hitting Australian opener Matthew Hayden was his all-time favourite, while he also admires Yuvraj Singh among the Indians.

Incidentally, the KKR probables includes another cricketer son Shatrunjay Gaekwad, son of former India opener and coach Anshuman Gaekwad. Left-handed batsman Shatrunjay has played for Baroda.

Ashaduddin is part of a pool of 44 cricketers selected from all over the country to go in for a three-day selection trial to be conducted by coach John Buchanan and Ganguly for Kolkata Knight Riders. The camp begins tomorrow.

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